Over the last decade, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been working hard on its “Social Credit System”. Meant to be fully operational by last year, its aim is “to allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”
Surveillance by the state is not new in China. But with modern technologies, the Social Credit System brings surveillance to a new level. Using the internet and China’s 200 million CCTV cameras with facial recognition technology each movement, each decision of each citizen, every facet of daily life, every online and offline action is monitored and evaluated.
If you buy baby nappies, you may gain points for responsibility; if you purchase too much alcohol, get caught jaywalking or post ‘fake news’ online, you may lose points. The aim is total control. China is fast becoming the world’s first digital dictatorship.
Human Rights Implications
The Social Credit System is mandatory for all citizens. Many millions of Chinese citizens with low social credit points for ‘undesirable’ behaviour have already been blacklisted under the Social Credit System. This comes with dire consequences.
Some of those blacklisted are unable to book plane or train tickets. Some are put last on hospital waiting lists. Many are subjected to public shaming, with names and faces posted online or screened on city streets. Sometimes, if a person is convicted of a crime, his entire extended family and his associates might be punished as well. The scores of parents can even affect the benefits available to their children.
In implementing the Social Credit System, it seems Chinese citizens are deliberately kept in the dark. There are no published lists of what constitutes ‘undesirable’ behaviour or tables of how many points could be lost. The Oxford Human Rights Hub further states that “there is no mechanism to appeal to be removed from the blacklist.” Through such coercion, the CCP is deliberately intensifying the power of the Chinese state. While the Chinese Constitution embodies the right of privacy and freedom of speech, these are being flouted by the Social Credit System.
Chuck Colson, who drafted the USA Manhattan Declaration in the defence of human life, marriage, and religious freedom, said that human rights are “based on our fundamental beliefs about humans being created in the image of God.” Our “rights are not conferred by government, and so they cannot be denied by government.” Very sadly, the Chinese Communist Party, with its atheistic worldview, is not able to grasp this tenet for a just and free society.
Faith in the Atheistic Communist Party
Since Xi Jinping took power in 2012, the Chinese President, like Mao Zedong before him, seems determined to extinguish all religious faith from within his country, replacing it with faith in the atheistic Chinese Communist Party and its leader. As a result, the Social Credit System has turned the border region of Xinjiang Province into a veritable prison for the Uyghur people, a minority which practises Islam.
Surveillance cameras have been placed in mosques and officials have taken fingerprints, blood samples and voice recordings of Uyghur citizens. According to ABC TV’s 18 September 2018 edition of Foreign Correspondent entitled ‘Leave No Dark Corner’, an estimated one million Uyghur people are now being held in re-education camps.
Crackdown on Christians
Christians are also being targeted. In recent years the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has demolished churches, removed crosses, restricted religious expression online, banned Christian funerals and is attempting to rewrite the Bible and hymns so that the message reflects CCP ideology.
These and other crackdowns escalated dramatically in February 2018 when the CCP imposed harsh new restrictions on all religions. Article 5 of the Regulations on Religious Affairs requires all religious personnel to exercise nothing less than total submission to the Communist Party.
With this blatant renewal of authoritarianism, China rose sixteen spots on the Open Doors 2019 World Watch List. China went from the 43rd most difficult nation to live as a Christian to the 27th. As control intensified, China rose a further four spots in 2020.
It is obvious that Christianity is systematically being banned from the public sphere. Teachers and medical staff have been pressured to sign documents saying they have no religious faith. In some areas, elderly people have been told that their pensions will be cut if they don’t renounce their Christian faith. Now face and fingerprint scanning equipment is being installed in churches throughout China. Congregation members will have to stand in line and have faces and fingerprints scanned before being allowed to enter the church.
Conformity to Jesus
Through the Social Credit System, the Communist Party of China is coercing its citizens to conform to their atheistic understanding of what is virtuous and good. Those who do not conform are permanently blacklisted and persecuted with no exceptions.
Western nations, however, were founded largely on the Judeo-Christian belief in a gracious and compassionate God who created every human being in His own image with inherent value and dignity. And so the apostle Paul declared the glorious truth that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:28-29)
Whether we live in a free or communist society, Christians everywhere are being conformed to the image of Jesus Who, according to the Bible, is “the image of the invisible God”. (Colossians 1:15)
Father God, You alone are perfectly righteous, holy and just.
No earthly power or system of government can take Your place.
Thank You that Your Word declares that “the eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).
We pray for China as the atheistic Chinese Communist Party seeks to establish a digital dictatorship. In particular, we pray for strength for our brothers and sisters there as they come under increasing persecution.
We pray for ourselves that You would give us wisdom
to guard and cherish our many freedoms in Australia.
As a nation, give us courage not to compromise our values
in how we relate to totalitarian nations. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Reference: Jean Seah, “Social Credit System gives complete control of every citizen“, News Weekly, 20 October 2018.