Good Citizens In China Benefit From Free Cars
What would you do if we told you could rent a car for free? You would probably do a happy dance thinking about all the driving you could do without the burden of owning your own vehicle. Now, what if we told you that you could only rent a car for free if the government thought you were good enough? Would you still be happy, or would you be saving up money for your next car payment?
In China’s trade hub of Guangzhou, this car rental system is now a reality. The Chinese government is notorious for its poor civil rights record and its surveillance of its population, and now it has enacted a “social credit system” to force more people to behave properly. Individuals gain or lose points on their credit score based on their behavior. Playing video games for too long, jaywalking, and missing dinner reservations can make citizens lose points on their score, whereas “good deeds” like donating blood, and doing work for charity can earn you points.
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As if that doesn’t sound invasive enough, the body that controls internet access in China is considering adding social media activities to the point system. This would mean that users more supportive of the authoritarian government would earn more points (and protesters would have their scores lowered).
According to Mental Floss, customers at the Super Test-Drive Center in Guangzhou will be able to rent a car for up to three days at no cost if their social score is above 700 points. Those with lower scores can still apply to borrow a car, but it will cost them money. Of course, people with lower points might have their own cars to drive and might not need the machine, but it places a bigger financial burden on them in the long run.
This car vending machine is technically branded as a test drive opportunity offered by the Alibaba Group and Ford, but there is no indication that visitors couldn’t rent multiple cars as time goes on for personal use. We are surprised that an all-American brand like Ford would participate in a service that depends on information from an authoritative state.
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All indicators point to benefits like this for citizens with good social credit scores as only the beginning. According to The Conversation, citizens in some regions with low social scores are given longer waits for emergency medical care, face travel restrictions, and have poor access to loans.
We’ll pass along any car-related updates on the social credit system as soon as we hear about it. Who knows? Maybe people with better social scores will get access to lower-traffic lanes in China’s notorious traffic.