While the issue of social rating is highly publicized in Western countries, it is widely accepted in China. However, it is difficult to have an accurate picture of the daily impact of this technology on public freedoms. Although the limitations on freedoms are undeniable, the idea of a police society, where everyone should pay attention to their every move, is immediately contradicted by the still joyfully Latin way in which people move in the city, crossing at a red light for pedestrians, cheerfully cutting in lines, etc. Clearly, the fear of Chinese authorities controlling their citizens’ actions has not - yet - contaminated all acts of Chinese daily life.
A control supported by Chinese academics
We are therefore struck by the advocacy for this technology, including within the academic and more broadly intellectual circles. The argument shared by all is the need to create a high level of social efficiency in a country of 1.5 billion people. While it is generally accepted as regrettable that discrimination can be carried out on a political basis, it is considered necessary that people who cut in line, cyclists who do not respect road regulations or even those indelicate people who get rid of their cigarette butts and waste in the street be punished.
It seems difficult to understand the reality of this technology from Europe, as the articles published in the Western media are generally contested by the Chinese we met. In practice, the strongest sanctions so far would be to prohibit the purchase of airplane tickets (on domestic flights a priori) or access to certain so-called secondary public services (assistance with administrative declarations, etc.). On the other hand, citizens with high social ratings would get skip-the-line tickets and other advantages. But profiling for political purposes probably affects a large number of individuals: an article in The Economist mentioned the figure of 5 million people discriminated against on a political basis, many of whom are members of the Uighur ethnic minority, demonstrating in itself that only advanced democracies could use it in a rational way.