Is China’s Social Credit System Legal?

In recent years, China’s social credit system has attracted a lot of international criticism. First, it is seen as an all-encompassing surveillance machine that collects information about (almost) anything from (almost) anybody, raising grave privacy concerns. Second, it is also considered to be a massive rating mechanism that puts a score upon every Chinese citizen for his or her so-called trustworthiness, a euphemism for obedience in the eyes of the state, which clearly rings the alarm bell for individual autonomy. Last but not least, it is suggested that the social credit system constitutes a convenient disciplinary instrument with its (in)famous blacklisting and joint sanction/punishment system to bring those untrustworthy citizens into line, even at the expenses of personal rights and liberties. But one central question remains largely unaddressed: is China’s social credit system legal? That question naturally begs the next question: what standard of “legality” shall be adopted here? And ultimately, can a legal assessment of the system tell us something deeper about its true nature? This presentation attempts to answer these questions with a focus on one essential element of the social credit system—the joint-sanction/punishment system, with the aim to show what we have got right and more importantly wrong about the Chinese social credit system.

Dr. Chun PENG is presently an assistant professor and assistant dean at Peking University Law School. He received his doctorate and master's degree in law from the University of Oxford and holds a double degree in law and economics from Peking University. He has published widely on Chinese constitutional law, administrative law and comparative law in English and Chinese. Besides scholarly work, he writes op-eds on China and the world at The Diplomat, China Daily and Caixin. His book Rural Land Takings Law in Modern China: Origin and Evolution is published with Cambridge University Press.

chun peng

To register this online talk, please contact Yuxue Fang via yuxue.fang@law.ox.ac.uk .

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