- The government’s official explanation for why it needs a social credit program focuses on the need for some sort of credit score. It claims that, given China’s rapid development, it has not had enough time to develop a credit system comparable to what exists in the West or instill trust in business transactions. Fixing this “trust deficit” is essential to the consumer economy Beijing means to create. Because it requires giving consumers access to credit, it also requires a way of determining the reliability of those consumers.
Trust is important, but beyond the official explanation, the social credit system has an ulterior motive: to introduce new norms to Chinese society – norms that could make China’s social identity much more pliable to new things. As China’s growth slows, and as it faces the challenges posed by its myriad financial problems, the CPC knows its opportunity to implement large-scale changes – that is, before it faces greater risk of central power being eroded – may be brief. Before the problems of tomorrow become the crises of today, Beijing must attempt to establish norms that condition people to behave in ways it deems more appropriate and socially beneficial, so that the consequences of misbehavior become familiar, and heavy handed penalties, though still used, are less often required.
And that is why the average Uyghur's social credit score is negative.