Chinese Canadian Perceptions of the Social Credit System

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Poon, Ashley
Social Credit System , China , Chinese Canadians , Immigrant Perceptions , Authoritarianism , Surveillance
In 2014, China announced that they would be implementing a Social Credit System (SCS) in hopes of encouraging trustworthy behavior between Chinese citizens, corporations, and government agencies (State Council, 2014). Currently, existing literature frames the SCS as a surveillance mechanism for social management and behavior engineering (Hoffman, 2018; Creemers, 2018; Dai, 2018; Langer, 2020). Additionally, research has also indicated that Chinese citizens generally hold high levels of approval towards the SCS (Kostka, 2019). Kostka (2019) further noted that because there was almost no disapproval amongst citizens, their opinions may be highly influenced by the authoritarian regime they are situated in. Therefore, this thesis explores the perceptions of Chinese Canadians regarding the SCS in hopes that this diaspora population can further shed light on Chinese public opinion towards the SCS. Using a mixed methods approach, my study incorporates a survey (n=63) which offers a quantitative snapshot of Chinese Canadian perceptions, while the use of semi-structured interviews (n=8) provides for an in-depth understanding of why they have those views. Based on this cross-sectional study, the findings suggest that older and first generation immigrants hold more favorable views of the SCS. Drawing from their own lived experiences in China and their understanding of Chinese culture, participants explained that while the SCS could be understood as an instrument for control, it also promotes trust, awareness, fairness, and a higher quality of living within a society that is plagued by fraud and distrust.
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