Available only in Russian
Author: Roman Ruvinskiy
Keywords: blacklists, legal subjectivity, personal data, police state, reputation, social rating
This paper focuses on the probable transformative effects of the application of the Chinese Social Credit System and similar projects in the realm of public administration on constitutional rights and freedoms, balances in citizen-state relations, and the model of statehood. The starting point of the research is the assumption that the Social Credit System, despite its specifically national Chinese peculiarities, can be seen as a reflection of a broader tendency towards the use of reputational information, techniques of ranking (grading) and risk management in the process of exercising the state power. To test this hypothesis, the author analyzes the actual experience of the Social Credit System’s introduction in the People’s Republic of China, compares this project with e-government projects, and proposes the umbrella-term of “social-credit mechanisms” to describe procedures and means of social control, based on the permanent collection and analysis of reputation data relating to persons. It is argued in this paper that the introduction of social-credit mechanisms to the practice of public administration ultimately leads to the emergence of a gap between formally enshrined rights and the actual ability to exercise them, between the legal capacity of a person and the ability to realise this capacity in certain legal relations. Examining the prospects of introduction of reputation-based social-credit mechanisms to the public administration, the author notices the probability of discrimination against persons who took a false step. As is demonstrated in the paper, the use of reputation data and social ratings by state authorities may result in the gradual differentiation in quality and scope of public services depending on social ratings (grades) of their addressees. This state of affairs may signify the birth of a new caste society and the end of the principle of equality before the law. According to the conclusions made in the paper, projects akin the Chinese Social Credit System reflect the global tendency towards the formation of a new type of constitutionalism. In the framework of this new constitutionalism the main emphasis will be shifted from citizens’ democratic participation in the execution of state power and the citizenry’s political subjectivity to ensure public safety and social stability. The issue of social-credit mechanisms’ introduction to the process of public administration is de facto an issue between the values of freedom and the values of security — the issue of choosing between political subjectivity and guaranteed biological existence.
About the author: Roman Ruvinskiy – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Associate Professor of the Department of History and Theory of State and Law at the Nizhny Novgorod Institute of Management, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.
Citation: Ruvinskiy R. (2021) Sistema sotsial'nogo kredita v Kitae: model' konstitutsionalizma dlya krizisnoy ery [The social credit system in China: a model of constitutionalism for the era of crises]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.30, no.3, pp.63–85. (In Russian).
Agamben G. (2005) State of Exception, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Agamben G. (2020) Riflessioni sulla peste. Quodlibet, 27 March. Available at: https://www.quodlibet.it/giorgio-agamben-riflessioni-sulla-peste (accessed: 22.05.2021).
Backer L.C. (2008) God(s) Over Constitutions: International and Religious Transnational Constitutionalism in the 21st Century. Mississippi College Law Review, vol.27, no.11, pp.11–66.
Backer L.C. (2009) From Constitution to Constitutionalism: A Global Framework for Legitimate Public Power Systems. Penn State Law Review, vol.113, no.3, pp.671–732.
Botsman R. (2017) Big Data Meets Big Brother as China Moves to Rate Its Citizens. Wired, 21 October. Available at: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/chinese-government-social-credit-score-privacy-invasion (accessed: 22.05.2021).
Boucher V. (2019) Exporting China’s Social Compliance System. East Asia Forum, 12 October. Available at: https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2019/10/12/exporting-chinas-social-compliance-system/ (accessed: 22.05.2021).
Chengyi P. (2019) Chinese Constitutionalism in a Global Context, London; New York: Routledge.
Dai X. (2020) Toward a Reputation State: A Comprehensive View of China’s Social Credit System. In: Everling O. (ed.) Social Credit Rating: Reputation und Vertrauen beurteilen, Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler, pp.139–163.
Durán R.F. (2012) The Breakdown of Global Capitalism: 2000–2030: Preparing for the Beginning of the Collapse of Industrial Civilisation, Madrid: Libros en Acción.
Deleuze G. (2004) Post scriptum k obshchestvam kontrolya [Postscript on the societies of control]. In: Deleuze G. Peregovory: 1972–1990 [Negotiations: 1972–1990], V.Yu.Bystrov (transl.), Saint Petersburg: Nauka, pp.226–233. (In Russian).
Fu H. (2020) China’s Imperatives for National Security Legislation. In: Chan C., de Londras F. (eds.) China’s National Security: Endangering Hong Kong’s Rule of Law? Oxford; New York: Hart Publishing, pp.41–60.
Hobbes T. (1991) Leviafan, ili Materiya, forma i vlast' gosudarstva tserkovnogo i grazhdanskogo [Leviathan, or The Matter, form, and power of a commonwealth, ecclesiastical and civil]. In: Hobbes T. Sochineniya. Tom 2 [Works. Vol.2], in 2 vols., N.Fedorov, A.Guterman (transl.), Moscow: Mysl'. (In Russian).
Gross O., Ní Aoláin F. (2006) Law in Times of Crisis, Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hatton C. (2015) China “Social Credit”: Beijing Sets Up Huge System. BBC News, 26 October. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-34592186 (accessed: 22.05.2021).
Kamolov S., Konstantinova A. (2017) E-Government: Way of Modernization and Efficiency Enhancement of Public Governance. Pravo i upravlenie. XXI vek, no.1, pp.13–21.
Katzenbach C., Ulbricht L. (2019) Algorithmic Governance. Internet Policy Review, vol.8, no.4, pp.1–18.
Kent A. (1999) China, the United Nations, and Human Rights: The Limits of Compliance, Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Kildiş H.P. (2019) Digital Totalitarianism: China’s Social Credit System. ANKASAM, 27 April. Available at: https://www.ankasam.org/en/digital-totalitarianism-chinas-social-credit-system/ (accessed: 22.05.2021).
Kinzelbach K. (2012) Will China’s Rise Lead to a New Normative Order? An Analysis of China’s Statements on Human Rights at the United Nations (2000–2010). Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, vol.30, no.3, pp.299–332.
König P.D. (2020) Dissecting the Algorithmic Leviathan: On the Socio-Political Anatomy of Algorithmic Governance. Philosophy & Technology, vol.33, no.3, pp.467–485.
Kostka G. (2019) China’s Social Credit Systems and Public Opinion: Explaining High Levels of Approval. New Media & Society, vol.21, no.7, pp.1565–1593.
Kuo M.-S. (2018) “The Place of the Constitution Is Empty”: Chinese Political Aesthetics of Commanding Constitutional Faith. Verfassungsblog, 23 March. Available at: https://verfassungsblog.de/the-place-of-the-constitution-is-empty-chinese-political-aesthetics-of-commanding-constitutional-faith/ (accessed: 22.05.2021).
Law D.S., Versteeg M. (2013) Sham Constitutions. California Law Review, vol.101, no.4, pp.863–952.
Liu C. (2019) Multiple Social Credit Systems in China. Economic Sociology. The European Electronic Newsletter, vol.21, no.1, pp.22–32.
Liu H.-W., Lin C.-F., Chen Y.-J. (2019) Beyond State v Loomis: Artificial Intelligence, Government Algorithmization and Accountability. International Journal of Law and Information Technology, vol.27, no.2, pp.122–141.
Ma A. (2019) In China You Get a Special Warning Before You Call People Who Owe Money, Telling You to Get Them to Pay Up. Insider, 20 May. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/china-phones-have-dial-tone-encouraging-you-to-make-debtors-pay-up-2019-5?op=1 (accessed: 22.05.2021).
Ma L., Chung J., Thorson S. (2005) E-Government in China: Bringing Economic Development Through Administrative Reform. Government Information Quarterly, vol.22, no.1, pp.20–37.
Mac Síthigh D., Siems M. (2019) The Chinese Social Credit System: A Model for Other Countries? Modern Law Review, vol.82, no.6, pp.1034–1071.
Mosher S.W. (2019) China’s New “Social Credit System” Is a Dystopian Nightmare. New York Post, 18 May. Available at: https://nypost.com/2019/05/18/chinas-new-social-credit-system-turns-orwells-1984-into-reality/ (accessed: 22.05.2021).
Ohlberg M., Ahmed S., Lang B. (2017) Central Planning, Local Experiments: The Complex Implementation of China’s Social Credit System. MERICS China Monitor, 12 December. Available at: https://merics.org/sites/default/files/2020-04/171212_China_Monitor_43_Social_Credit_System_Implementation.pdf (accessed: 22.05.2021).
Pernot-Leplay E. (2020) China’s Approach on Data Privacy Law: A Third Way Between the U.S. and the E.U.? Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs, vol.8, no.1, pp.49–117.
Polyakova A., Meserole C. (2019) Exporting Digital Authoritarianism: The Russian and Chinese Models. The Brookings Institution. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/FP_20190827_digital_authoritarianism_polyakova_meserole.pdf (accessed: 22.05.2021).
Ren X. (1997) Tradition of the Law and Law of the Tradition: Law, State, and Social Control in China. Westport, CT; London: Greenwood Press.
Rouvinsky R. (2021) Lawmaking in Times of Domestic and Foreign-Policy Instability (The Russian Experience). The Theory and Practice of Legislation, vol.9, no.1, pp.117–139.
Ruvinskiy R.Z. (2020) Pravoporyadok v period global'nogo krizisa: transformatsii, tendentsii, ugrozy [Legal order in time of the global crisis: transformations, trends, threats], Saint Petersburg: Aleteyya. (In Russian).
Sanders C.B., Sheptycki J. (2017) Policing, Crime and “Big Data”: Towards a Critique of Moral Economy of Stochastic Governance. Crime, Law and Social Change, vol.68, no.1–2, pp.1–15.
Shaefer K., Yin E. et al. (2019) Understanding China’s Social Credit System. Trivium China. Available at: https://socialcredit.triviumchina.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Understanding-Chinas-Social-Credit-System-Trivium-China-20190923.pdf (accessed: 22.05.2021).
Shigong J. (2014) Chinese-Style Constitutionalism: On Backer’s Chinese Party-State Constitutionalism. Modern China, vol.40, no.2, pp.133–167.
Trakhtenberg A.D. (2017) Ideologicheskiy kontsept elektronnogo pravitel'stva: kak rabotaet ritorika razryva [E-Government as an ideological concept: how doesthe rhetoric of divide function?]. Nauchnyy ezhegodnik Instituta filosofii i prava Ural'skogo otdeleniya Rossiyskoy akademii nauk, no.2, pp.41–58. (In Russian).
Vinayak V. (2019) The Human Rights Implications of China’s Social Credit System. Oxford Human Rights Hub, 6 September. Available at: https://ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/the-human-rights-implications-of-chinas-social-credit-system/ (accessed: 22.05.2021).
Wang J., Liu S. (2019) Ordering Power Under the Party: A Relational Approach to Law and Politics in China. The Asian Journal of Law and Society, vol.6, no.1, pp.1–18.
Wang Y., Minzner C. (2015) The Rise of the Chinese Security State. The China Quarterly, vol.222, pp.339–359.
Xiang X. (2013) Why Is Constitutionalism Impossible Under the CCP? China Change, 8 July. Available at: https://chinachange.org/2013/07/08/why-is-constitutionalism-impossible-under-the-ccp/comment-page-1/ (accessed: 22.05.2021).
Xiuzhong Xu V., Xiao B. (2018) China’s Social Credit System Seeks to Assign Citizens Scores, Engineer Social Behaviour. ABC News, 30 March. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-31/chinas-social-credit-system-punishes-untrustworthy-citizens/9596204 (accessed: 22.05.2021).
Zhang Q. (2010) A Constitution Without Constitutionalism? The Paths of Constitutional Development in China. International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol.8, no.4, pp.950–976.