China's Social Credit System: An Evolving Practice of Control

32 Pages Posted: 22 May 2018

See all articles by Rogier Creemers

Rogier Creemers

Leiden University - Van Vollenhoven Institute

Date Written: May 9, 2018


The Social Credit System (SCS) is perhaps the most prominent manifestation of the Chinese government's intention to reinforce legal, regulatory and policy processes through the application of information technology. Yet its organizational specifics have not yet received academic scrutiny. This paper will identify the objectives, perspectives and mechanisms through which the Chinese government has sought to realise its vision of "social credit". Reviewing the system's historical evolution, institutional structure, central and local implementation, and relationship with the private sector, this paper concludes that it is perhaps more accurate to conceive of the SCS as an ecosystem of initiatives broadly sharing a similar underlying logic, than a fully unified and integrated machine for social control. It also finds that, intentions with regards to big data and artificial intelligence notwithstanding, the SCS remains a relatively crude tool. This may change in the future, and this paper suggests the dimensions to be studied in order to assess this evolution.

Suggested Citation

Creemers, Rogier, China's Social Credit System: An Evolving Practice of Control (May 9, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Rogier Creemers (Contact Author)

Leiden University - Van Vollenhoven Institute ( email )

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