How to Make the Perfect Citizen? Lessons from China's Social Credit System

By: Liav Orgad & Wessel Reijers

PDF: How to Make the Perfect Citizen?

“How to make the perfect citizen?” This has been one of the questions driving the construction of the Chinese Social Credit System: a technology-driven project that aims to assess, evaluate, and steer the behavior of Chinese citizens. After presenting social credit systems in China’s public and private sectors (Part II), the Article provides normative standards to distinguish the Chinese system from comparable systems in liberal democracies (Part III). It then discusses the concept of civic virtue, as implemented by the Social Credit System, claiming that it creates a new form of governance, “cybernetic citizenship,” which fundamentally changes the essence of citizenship and the political role of the state (Part IV). On the whole, the Article demonstrates how the Chinese Social Credit System redefines the institution of citizenship and warns against similar patterns that are mushrooming in liberal democracies.