HK, Macau and Taiwan deleted from website for mainland China’s controversial ‘social credit system’ as rumours swirl of implementation

16-Jul-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan have been removed from a Chinese government “social credit system” website to avoid any misunderstanding that the controversial scheme, which some observers believe will increase the collection and sharing of data about citizens, will be implemented locally.

In a message posted on his Facebook page late on Saturday night, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said the items on Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan had been deleted from the “Credit China” website operated by the National Public Credibility Information Centre, after communications between the site administrator and the city’s government.

On Tuesday, some Taiwanese newspapers and online platforms in Hong Kong claimed the social credit system would be implemented in the city.

Nip rejected the claim the same day.

Rumours about imminent implementation may have arisen because the system was included in a three-year action plan, from 2018 to 2020, for developing the Greater Bay Area, the central government’s plan to turn Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong cities into an integrated economic and business hub.

The Guangdong provincial government issued the action plan on July 5.

“The deletion of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan from the website, which was done on Saturday, is aimed at avoiding any misunderstanding that the social credit system will be implemented in Hong Kong,” a Hong Kong government source said.

The source said that for completeness the website previously included Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan along with mainland provinces although there were no links embedded.

The central government plans to rank all citizens based on their “social credit” by next year. The system, first announced in 2014, aims to reinforce the idea that “keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful”.

Meant to improve governance and market order, the system is being tested using “black lists” or, in some communities, “scores” to incentivise good behaviour by citizens and businesses.

Under the scheme, Chinese citizens are rated with a social score in some regions. Those who fail to pay debts or taxes, raise funds illegally, participate in fraud, or violate traffic regulations may receive punishments such as being barred from buying public transport tickets or booking hotel rooms.

Nip’s swift move came amid ongoing tensions between the public and the Hong Kong government over the now-suspended extradition bill.

Although Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor declared it dead, protesters against the bill demanded a complete withdrawal, among other things. The bill would have allowed the city to extradite offenders to jurisdictions it does not have an extradition agreement with, including the mainland, where critics say a fair trial is not guaranteed.

Lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung of opposition Labour Party said the saga showed there was a lack of communication between the Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor government and the mainland authorities.

“Lam has been boasting about Hong Kong’s participation in the Greater Bay Area development but her government did not seem to know what the other side was doing,” Cheung said.

“Such a blunder should not have been taken place if there was a good communication channel between Guangdong and Hong Kong officials. Lam and her top officials did not seem to understand the sensitivity of the issue.”


Category: Taiwan

Print This Post