Donald Trump has two most commonly used different names in Chinese: Tèlǎngpǔ (特朗普) and Chuānpǔ (川普). Both names have been used by Chinese mainstream media and netizens for years.
In the Chinese translation of Donald Trump’s autobiography The Art of the Deal (1987), the ‘Tèlǎngpǔ’ transliteration is used, whereas the translation of the George Ross book Trump-Style Negotiations (2008) uses ‘Chuānpǔ’ as the Chinese name for Trump.
Now that Trump as the US president is making headlines every day, more people are wondering why Trump has two Chinese names, and which one is the correct name to use. There are even discussions about the topic on Chinese social media.
Why are non-Chinese names translated?
Why are non-Chinese names actually translated into Chinese at all? With English and Chinese being such vastly different languages with entirely different phonetics and script, the majority of Chinese people will find it hard to pronounce a foreign name that is written in English/alphabet.
Writing an English name in Chinese characters does not just help Chinese speakers to pronounce it, it also makes it easier to remember. Most Chinese names usually consist of 2 or 3 characters; the first character being the surname, and the last character(s) being the given name. Writing a foreign name in 2 or 3 Chinese characters makes it easier for most Chinese speakers to grasp it.
Translating a name to better adapt to the culture in which it is used does not only happen with English names in China; you often see the same happening with Chinese names in foreign countries.
In that case, the first character (surname) is moved to the back, and the given name changed into an English one. Alibaba’s Ma Yun, for example, has become globally known as ‘Jack Ma.’ Film star Zhao Wei is called ‘Vicky Zhao’, and the popular actress Lin Yun is known as ‘Jelly Lin.’
The right way to translate a foreign name in Chinese
There are multiple ways to translate an English name to Chinese. Most commonly, a name is translated into Chinese characters that are phonetically similar to the English name, without necessarily being very meaningful. The transliteration of ‘Hillary’ (Clinton), for example, is ‘Xīlālǐ’ (希拉里).
Another option is to choose a name purely based on meaning rather than phonetics. One example is Elvis Presley, who is called ‘Cat King’ (Māo Wáng 猫王) in Chinese for his nickname “The Hillbilly Cat.”
The best option when translating a foreign name into Chinese, however, is to make sure it stays close to its original pronunciation while also using elegant characters. In other words; it is nice when a name’s translation makes sense both phonetically and semantically. Marilyn Monroe’s last name in Chinese is Mènglù (梦露), for example, which sounds like ‘Monroe’ and has the characters for ‘Dream Dew’ – a perfect transliteration for such a dreamy actress.
Even when the characters used for a foreign name in Chinese are not necessarily intended to convey a certain meaning, it is important that they do not have any negative connotations. Nobody wants a character in their name associated with divorce, disease or death – it is believed to bring bad luck.
Another thing is that it is good for foreign names in Chinese to maintain a ‘foreign flavor’ to it, to make it clear that the name is actually a transliteration. To give an example raised in this Nikkei article: President Reagan’s name is generally translated as Lǐgēn 里根 in Chinese – the characters being somewhat uncommon for a Chinese name.
The same name could also be written with the characters 李根, very common for a Chinese name, but then it would be difficult to know whether a media report is talking about Reagan the President or just a local Chinese person by the same name. Transliterations of foreign names, therefore, are often easily recognizable as foreign names on purpose.
Trump, Tèlǎngpǔ, and Chuānpǔ
In the case of Trump, his Chinese names are mainly chosen for phonetic reasons, with different sources using different characters.
The Chinese-language Nikkei newspaper dedicated an article to the matter of Trump’s various Chinese names, saying that although it may all seem trivial, it is actually quite confusing and unpractical for president Trump to have more than one name in Chinese.
The Chinese media in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and most overseas Chinese－language media, refer to Trump as ‘Chuānpǔ’ (川普). According to the World Journal, the biggest Chinese-language newspaper in the US, it is the only proper way to translate this name.
Then why, World Journal wonders, do most media from mainland China refer to him as ‘Te-rum-p’ (Tèlǎngpǔ)? Is it because Chinese state media simply do not know how ‘Trump’ is properly pronounced?
Not necessarily. The author of the Nikkei notes that while most Taiwanese, Hong Kong and Chinese-language American media use ‘Chuānpǔ’, most Chinese state media and Chinese-language UK media (such as BBC) all use ‘Tèlǎngpǔ.’
This relates to the fact that Chinese translations of foreign names try to stay as close as possible to the pronunciation of a name in its original language. It is also the reason why the name of the city ‘Paris’ is pronounced ‘Bālí’ (巴黎) in Mandarin Chinese, staying close to the French pronunciation, and ‘Amsterdam’ being ‘Āmǔsītèdān’ (阿姆斯特丹), which follows the city’s Dutch pronunciation.
While all Chinese media are actually correct in their transliteration of the name Trump, they stick to different ways of pronunciation. The ‘Tèlǎngpǔ’ 特朗普 translation stays closer to the British pronunciation of his name, while Chuānpǔ 川普 follows the American way of saying this name.
Although Chinese state media have followed the ‘BBC translation’ of the name, it would probably be better to stay close to the American pronunciation and stick to the Chuānpǔ 川普 translation. After all, Trump is American. The Nikkei author notes that if it would be about the Prime Minister of Britain, the Chinese translation would have to stay closer to the British pronunciation.
Chuángpù and Chuángpò?
On Chinese social media, President Trump even has more than two names. There are also netizens referring to him as 床鋪, 闯破 or 床破 (Chuángpù/Chuángpò); these are all transliterations that contain strange or negative characters, making the name unrefined and harsh-sounding on purpose to make the name ‘Trump’ look and sound bad.
Although there have been online discussions on the right transliteration for the name Trump, it is unlikely that there will be one official Chinese name for the US President in the near future. Many netizens simply use both versions of his name in one post to avoid confusion.
“Who cares if it is Tèlǎngpǔ or Chuānpǔ anyway?” one netizen says: “In this day and age, we all know who it is we are talking about.”
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Netizens or Not? About Chinese Online Communities & Use of the Term ‘Netizen’
The term ‘netizens’, referring to Chinese internet users, is both loved and hated.
It has been an issue of debate for years; the use of the word ‘netizen’ in English-language media – especially when referring to Chinese internet users.
At What’s on Weibo, it is a word we use in pretty much every article we post. Online media in China is our focus, and how ‘netizens’ deal with social media and trending topics is at the heart of this website.
But many people have had enough of the word ‘netizen.’ Already in 2013, Matt Schiavenza at The Atlantic wrote that the term was “once useful as a way to describe China’s internet users,” but that it is now “meaningless, inaccurate, and misleading.”
Schiavenza argues that “netizens” is mainly used for Chinese internet users who are politically active or outspoken, while there is a huge number of Chinese people who are non-political in their online behavior.
The term has also been discussed among people on Reddit, where some call it a “stupid journalism” term.
At the conclusion of the recent Chinese Internet Research Conference at Leiden University, the term was also briefly discussed in the context of ‘online communities,’ with some scholars deeming the word inappropriate to refer to Chinese internet users – also suggesting that speaking of Chinese “online communities” in itself was problematic to begin with.
One discussion participant suggested that words such as ‘community’ or ‘netizen’ are labels used by outsiders in the academic world or in foreign media, rather than Chinese describing themselves that way – saying it is problematic because it is “our label, not theirs.”
Is this really true? What’s behind the term ‘netizens’? Should Chinese internet users be described with other terms than ‘netizens’? For what reasons?
Behind the Word ‘Netizen’
The word ‘netizen’ was first coined in 1984 and popularized with the spread of the internet during the 1990s. The word is a blend of the words ‘internet’ and ‘citizen,’ and is (or was) generally used to either refer to people who use the internet, or more specifically, to refer to people who participate in online discussions or belong to ‘online communities’ (Johnson 2013).
The term is also often attributed to net theoretician Michael Hauben, who used it in his 1997 work to define people who “actively contribute toward the development of the Internet” and for a “citizen who used the Internet as a way of participating in political society.”
Already in 2012,Time Magazine elected the term as one of the words that should be banished, suggesting it had become archaic since its launch in the 1980s.
But when looking at the more recent use of the word ‘netizens’ in academia and foreign media, the term is anything but dead. It does seem to be applied far more often to Asian online contexts, e.g. Chinese or Korean online users, than it is used to describe internet users in Europe or America.
It is often used, for example, to talk about online fans of the K-pop industry or users of the Sina Weibo platform – suggesting that there has been a shift in the use of ‘netizens’ from the 1980s or 1990s to describe any internet user, to more specifically describing those (often Chinese) internet users that are part of a specific online circle.
From Netizen to Wangmin
One reason why ‘netizen’ is used in the Chinese case specifically, is because Chinese media and social media users use the word ‘wǎngmín’ (网民) very frequently.
Wangmin (网民) literally means ‘net-people’ or ‘net-citizens’ (thus literally: ‘netizens’), and is the generally accepted term to designate internet users in China. The term was described by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) in 2013 as “Chinese residents who are six or older and have used the Internet at least once in the past six months” (Shen 2013).
The CNNIC has used the term wangmin officially since 1997, the year of its founding, when its first ‘China Wangmin Survey’ (中国网民调查) came out – the same year that Michael Hauben theorized and politicized the word.
The Chinese term wangmin seems to lack the more political implications of the term ‘netizen’ in English in Western countries, which has come to imply that an internet user is politically involved in online issues. Chinese fans of certain music genres or TV series are hardly politically involved in online causes, yet they are still wangmin.
There are (political) implications to the term wangmin on another level, though; in Chinese media, the term is mostly connected to nations. For example; one can speak of ‘American netizens’ (全美网民), ‘Canadian netizens’ (加拿大网民) or ‘Chinese netizens’ (中国网民,国内网民).
There are also instances in which the term is applied to platforms rather than nations. Some Chinese media have used the term ‘Sina Weibo netizens’ (新浪微博网民), for example.
Netizens versus Netizens
So what does this all mean? Firstly, it means that the use of ‘wangmin’ or ‘netizens’ in the Chinese context is not the same as the way the term ‘netizens’ has come to be used in the English-language Western context.
It also means that the term is not archaic at all. After all, who can claim a word is ‘outdated’ or ‘old-fashioned’ when it is practically being used at all hours of the day on Chinese internet and in Chinese media today? Even though it has been used since 1997, it has proved to be anything but a word trend: wangmin has become a part of normal Chinese vocabulary.
Third, claiming that it is a “stupid journalist term” or “our label, not theirs” also does not do just to the word; in the Chinese context, the term is used far beyond journalism, and more importantly; it is used by Chinese organizations and individuals to describe Chinese internet users, meaning it is not merely a term that is used by non-Chinese to describe Chinese online populations.
One thing that stands out when talking about ‘netizens’, no matter in what context, is that it is tied to the idea of an ‘online community.’ Much has been researched and said about what constitutes an online community, but for the scope of this article, we could say that it minimally requires some sense of a shared collective identity or some pursue of a shared purpose (Massa 2017, 961).
In the case of China’s online environment, online communities are built in two ways.
In one way, it is constructed at the state level to “define wangmin within the nation-state boundary,” as Yiping Shen (2015) writes in Public Discourses of Contemporary China.
This is, amongst others, very visible in state reports or state media that define “Chinese netizens” (中国网民) in the same way in which citizens are legally recognized subjects of a nation or state, meaning citizens of the PRC. In this way, all of China’s 772 + million internet users are part of this group of ‘netizens’ and have to follow to guidelines the government lays out for Chinese netizens.
In another way, it is used among Chinese companies and internet users to define themselves, either in the way the state has intended it, or at a smaller online community level. And these communities exist everywhere, from small-scale to large-scale, some existing for a long time, some being short-lived; from the long-standing Rage Comics community to temporary groups and Human Flesh Search Engines, to flourishing BBS or WeChat groups.
A platform such as Sina Weibo also clearly defines itself as a ‘community’ (社区), with its ‘Weibo Community Management’ (新浪微博社区管理) being an important part of the site in setting out guidelines for its members.
Wangyou: Chinese Online Friends
So what options are there for future references to Chinese internet users? Should we just stick to ‘netizens’? Would it more appropriate to use the original Chinese term ‘wangmin,’ or should we perhaps use another widespread term, namely that of ‘wǎngyǒu’?
Besides Chinese internet users defining themselves as wangmin, the word wangyou (网友), literally ‘web friend’, is also often used among netizens to define the members of their online ‘community’ (e.g. Weibo) or Chinese internet users at large.
Jessica Sun (孙慧), linguist and co-founder of the Dutch website Chinatalk, explains that ‘wangyou’ or ‘webfriends’ initially was meant to define those people one knew from cyberspace, when internet just gained traction in China.
Once China’s online population grew bigger, the idea of wangyou also grew to include more people. “It could also refer to a larger group of people who share the same interests or attitudes, instead of just friends,” Sun explains.
Sun compares the use of wangyou to the Chinese word for ‘friend’, pengyou (朋友), which is often used to sound more intimate, although the person addressed is not necessarily really considered a ‘friend.’
According to Sun’s analysis, wangmin (netizen) and wangyou (webfriend) are generally interchangeable, although there are some subtle differences. Sun has some remarks explaining the difference between the two terms:
1. In many cases, wangmin could also be a wangyou, but not the other way around. Wangyou can be used to show a more emotional attachment or personal relation, as in ‘my webfriends’ (我的网友). One can not say ‘my netizens’ (我的网民).
2. While wangyou is more intimate, wangmin is more neutral, and is therefore mainly used by news outlets.
3. The use of the term wangmin or wangyou depends on the attitude of the person who uses it towards a specific person/event, depending on the ‘community’ they are in or the stance they have towards a particular incident.
For example, when Chinese media report about wangyou doing something or being angered about something, it often means this author/publication is siding with these ‘webfriends’.
The headline featured above (“As policeman bravely sacrifices his life, [some] webfriends are angered about these details“) is a story about a policeman who died on duty while trying to protect pedestrians from an out-of-control car. When some online commenters said that it was the policeman’s job to protect the people, suggesting his death was part of his duty, many other commenters were angered with these comments. By featuring the ‘webfriends’ term in this headline, the publication shows it sides with those ‘webfriends’ who mourn the policeman’s death and who are angered about insensitive comments relating to his death.
Another story, headline above (“Shenyang policeman dies on duty, two netizens detained over insulting comments“), is about another policeman dying on duty due to an attack by a suspect, with two web users commenting that the person attacking the police was a “hero” for doing so. The headline states that “two netizens insulting [police] have been detained” – in such a case, the media report shows a distance towards the commenters – ‘webfriends’ would surely not be used to refer to them.
All in all, it is clear that words such as netizen or wangyou, although they might sound outdated in an English-language context, are anything but outdated in the Chinese context.
Nearly five years after The Atlantic posted its anti-‘netizen’ article, claiming the word “meaningless, inaccurate, and misleading,” recent uses of the term and its ubiquity in (Chinese) media show that it was perhaps the author’s perspective that was flawed, rather than the term itself.
For the time to come, Chinese ‘netizens’ are here to stay.
We’d like to hear your stance! How do you feel about ‘netizens,’ or would you rather see a more frequent use of the original wangmin term? Fill out the poll below:
With contribution from Jessica Sun at Chinatalk.
Hauben, Michael and Ronda Hauben. 1997. Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet. Computer Society Press: Los Alamitos, CA.
Jones, Paul Anthony. 2013. Haggard Hawks and Paltry Poltroons: The Origins of English in Ten Words.
Massa, Felipe G. 2017. “Guardians of the Internet: Building and Sustaining the Anonymous Online Community.”Organization Studies 38 (7): 959 –988.
Shen, Yiping. 2015. “Netizens, Counter-Memories, and Internet Literature into the New Millennium.” In: Public Discourses of Contemporary China. Chinese Literature and Culture in the World, Chapter 4. Palgrave Macmillan: New York.
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Baihang and the Eight Personal Credit Programmes: A Credit Leap Forward
“The personal credit era has arrived,” some netizens say.
Three years after eight commercial firms were granted permission by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) to start their pilot programmes in operating personal credit systems in 2015, none of them have received a license.
Instead, they’ve now become shareholders and active contributors to a new unified platform that has access to an enormous number of personal credit data. At the so-called ‘trust alliance’ (信联) Baihang Credit (百行征信), state level and commercial organizations join forces in further developing China’s credit systems.
How they can share data without harming Chinese recent laws on privacy, however, remains vague.
An important moment within this development started over twelve years ago (to be precise: on March 20 of 2006), when the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) began operating its own independent Credit Reference Center. The goal of the brand-new center was to set up the reliable credit checking platform which China was still lacking at the time.
At its core, it was tasked with managing a national commercial and consumer credit reporting system, to enable financial institutions to assess borrowers’ creditworthiness.
In November of 2013, during the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Congress, new plans were adopted to also “establish and improve a social credit system to commend honesty and punish dishonesty” (USC 2013), putting more pressure on the formation of a solid credit checking system in China.
Months later, in 2014, the Chinese State Council issued an official notice concerning the construction of a nationwide Social Credit System that was to be rolled out by 2020 (Creemers 2014).
Three Years of the “Credit Leap Forward”
It is perhaps no coincidence that not too long after the formal announcement of these plans, that would lead to a more credit-based Chinese society, the PBOC Credit Center opened its doors to eight Chinese companies to work on trial programmes to prepare for operating their own personal credit information businesses.
At the time, in 2015, the PBOC’s Credit Center had been around for nearly a decade, yet still ‘only’ covered 25% of the Chinese population, leaving ample risks in the control process of Chinese financial services (Yang 2017).
You could say that 2015 was an important year in which competition for China’s multi-billion personal credit investigation market really began, along with the flourishing of China’s Internet population and the growing demand for personal online data information (Jun 2015). A recent Caixin column by Xinhai Liu (刘新海), associate researcher at the Credit Reference Center, even calls the 2015-2018 period the “Credit Great Leap Forward” (“征信大跃进的三年”).
Besides that new personal credit rating tech firms started to pop up, the year 2015 was also the year when misconceptions arose in foreign media regarding these existing credit systems.* ACLU called it “nightmarish,” falsely claiming that all Chinese would be “measured by a score between 350 and 950, which is linked to their national identity card” and that “the government has announced that it will be mandatory by 2020.”
As explained in our recent article about this issue, these discussions – that continue in foreign media to this day – often blur the lines between the national Social Credit system and a number of private programs. (To understand more about the difference between the government’s Social Credit system and the commercial ones, please read the previous article we featured on this topic.)
These misunderstandings partly come from the fact that both the government’s plans on introducing their ‘Social Credit System’ (社会信用体系) and the Central Bank’s endeavors to build a stronger personal credit industry (个人征信行业) were major developments in the period from 2013-2015 up to the present.
The Eight Programmes
With such a strong demand for solid credit rating systems, why have none of the eight approved tech firms received their license, over three years after starting pilot operations?
One of the main problems with commercial services such as the well-known ‘Sesame Credit’ is, according to PBOC spokesperson Wan Cunzhi, that they are all “isolated islands” (“信息孤岛”) of non-shared data, that they are lacking in independence, and that their data management is not strong enough (Yang 2017).
The coming-together of these “islands” solves this problem and forms one solid platform under the ‘Baihang’ label. Which eight companies does this concern? An overview:
1. Sesame Credit (芝麻信用)
This is the best-known commercial personal credit score programme, implemented by Alibaba’s Ant Financial. Sesame Credit already had 520 million users as of 2017.
Sesame Credit was launched in 2015. Because it is part of the Alibaba family, Sesame Credit has an enormous amount of data at its disposal, from e-commerce sites to finance products (Taobao, Tianmao, Alipay, etc), through which it compiles users’ own scores, going from 350-950, for those who have opted into the program. The scores are based on a number of things, including people’s payment history, their contacts and network, and online behavior.
2. Tencent Credit (腾讯征信)
Since the Tencent company currently hosts 55% of China’s mobile internet usage on its platforms (Marr 2018), it has also an enormous amount of data at its disposal. Similar to Sesame Credit, Tencent Credit works with a 300-850 score system. It officially launched a trial of its score programme in January of 2018, but then took it down shortly after.
3. Kaola Credit (考拉征信)
Koala Credit is an independent third-party credit company established by the Shenzhen-based Lakara (拉卡拉) financial services company. Koala Credit was launched in May of 2015, around the same time as Sesame Credit launched its program. Lakara has strategic and powerful partnerships with China Unionpay, five major banks, and hundreds of other financial institutions. Lakara and Koala Credit jointly founded a pioneering lab in China that focuses on big data models. The University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is involved in this project (Zhuo et al 2016, 299).
4. Pengyuan Credit (鹏元征信)
Established in 2005, Pengyuan Credit is amongst the oldest personal credit investigation firms of the eight selected by the PBOC. The company states on its website that its main goal since 2005 has been to “create a credit reporting ecosphere on the Internet,” shifting from traditional credit rating systems to online credit rating methods.
5. Sinoway Credit (华道征信)
The Beijing Sinoway Credit was established in 2013 by four large financial companies. As explained by BJReview (2016), Sinoway is among those companies (such as Zhima and Tencent) that accumulate data from their business rather than using traditional algorithms to collect financial and public data. They have exclusive access to enterprise data (Zhuo et al 2016, 299).
6. Qianhai Credit Service (深圳前海征信)
Another company established in 2013, Qianhai Credit is based in Shenzhen. It was launched by financial giant Pingan. The current CEO is the female big data specialist Qiu Han (邱寒).
7. China Chengxin Credit (中诚信征信)
The Beijing-based China Chengxin Credit company was founded in 2005, established by the China Chengxin Credit Management group. The firm provides personal credit information and companies and market research services. As described by the China Money Network, its database is connected to local administrations for industry and commerce, police, courts, telecom service providers to provide comprehensive credit information.
8. Intellicredit (中智诚征信)
Intellicredit is a Beijing-based independent, third-party credit registry. CEO Li Xuan (李萱) has previously expressed the company’s goal to handle any loopholes that let scammers get away with fraud in China’s online financial environment. The company is experienced in credit industries both in China and abroad, and its team has also worked on the establishment of the credit reporting system of the PBOC (Zhuo et al 2016, 299).
Baihang & Allies: An Abundance of Personal Data
The formal launch of Baihang Credit (百行征信), the “first unified personal credit information firm” of China, has become big news in Chinese media, with some calling it a personal credit industry game changer.
Baihang Credit is a joint establishment of the aforementioned eight and the China Internet Finance Association.* It received its license in February of this year. The firm officially opened for business on May 23rd of 2018.
While the China Internet Finance association reportedly holds 36% of the Baihang firm, the other eight shareholders each hold 8% (Zhang & Liu 2018).
The eight companies are not just financial investors, but also active contributors and sharers of technology, resources, and data for the Baihang firm. The launch of this joint establishment means that both state-level institutions and commercial enterprises combine their efforts in building a strong personal credit investigation and service platform; the new system now links data collected by these powerful firms such as Tencent to the state-level China Internet Finance Association, which in itself is an initiative by the People’s Bank of China.
Besides basic data including personal information, education level, salaries or employer, companies such as Sesame Credit or Tencent also have access to a rich collection of consumer data, ranging from social media, e-commerce purchases, online travel data, to location, phone records and even social connections.
The eight firms will also play an important role in Baihang’s management. Sesame Credit, Tencent Credit, Qianhai Credit, Sinoway and Koala Credit have all entered the company’s board of directors. The other three companies will join the board of supervisors (Sina Finance 2018). The 57-year-old Zhu Huanqi (朱焕启) will be Baihang’s CEO and president; he previously worked at Huida Asset Management.
The PBOC told Caixin Global that all parts of the eight companies that previously dealt with personal credit ratings will now be incorporated into Baihang. The other parts can continue to operate as data service providers. In the future, Sesame Credit, for example, will continue to research commercial credit services.
Many Questions Linger
While the recent alliance has received ample attention in Chinese media as an important moment in China’s transforming alleged ‘credit-based’ society, many questions still linger.
One Nanjing research institute writes on Weibo: “The joining of these companies means they can share big data. This also means that if a person is behind [in payments] on one platform, they will also have no access to loans on any of the others.”
But is it all about sharing personal financial credit information, or is this about the sharing of other data as well? What are the legal implications of Baihang operations? And to what extent, if at all, will the system link to the upcoming nationwide Social Credit System?
Caixin Global noted that Baihang Credit will face challenges regarding Chinese Cybersecurity Law, which imposes strict limits on ‘secondary uses’ of data beyond its original purpose, and requires individual authorization when personal data is transferred from one institution to another (Sacks 2018; Zhang & Liu 2018).
In this Caixin article, the PBOC’s spokesperson would not elaborate on how Baihang will collect and use personal data. He was only quoted in saying only that contributions to Baihang will be handled “according to market rules.”
“Personal Credit Era has Arrived”
Despite the many articles about Baihang in Chinese media, it has not become a much-discussed topic on social media; netizens discussing Chinese credit systems seem more concerned with the height of their Sesame Credit score.
One Weibo user, however, did write about the Baihang alliance, commenting: “The personal credit era has arrived” (“个人信用时代到来”).
Other people worry about the impact of this alliance, saying: “You’ll see that if you have a negative balance on your bank account, you won’t be able to use the public bathroom anymore.” (Recently, various cities in China are upgrading their public toilets, integrating AI features such as facial recognition for people to receive free toilet paper.)
Some commenters simply call the companies that have joined under Baihang “a pile of trash.”
Although Sesame Credit will not receive a license to operate its personal credit investigation business, it is highly probable that users of their credit programme will still be able to enjoy the perks of, among many other things, entering libraries for free or riding rental bikes without deposit with a high score.
“I’ve just arrived in Hangzhou and can do many things for free,” one person wrote: “I feel like my Credit Score is omnipotent.”
Baihang’s recent alliance is about to make Chinese personal credit scores even more omnipotent – the ‘Credit Leap Forward’ is well underway.
* In an article from December of 2015, for example, The Independent suggested that “China has created a social tool which gives people a score for how good a citizen they are,” describing how “China” had put forward “a concept straight out of a cyberpunk dystopia” named Sesame Credit.
* The Chinese Internet Finance Association, also known as the NIFA (National Internet Finance Association) was established in March of 2015 upon approval by the Chinese State Council and Ministry of Civil Affairs. It is a state-level organization.
References (others linked directly within text)
Creemers, Rogier. 2014. “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System (2014-2020).” China Copyright and Media, 14 June China https://chinacopyrightandmedia.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/planning-outline-for-the-construction-of-a-social-credit-system-2014-2020/ [10.6.18].
Creditchina. 2018. “百行征信入场,8家股东剥离个人征信业务.” CreditChina.gov, 4 June http://www.creditchina.gov.cn/gerenxinyong/gerenxinyongliebiao/201806/t20180604_117132.html [10.6.18].
Huang, Zhiling. 2016. “Six Obstacles to Producing Reliable Big-Data Credit Reports.” BJ Review, 15 December http://www.bjreview.com/Business/201612/t20161212_800074419.html [9.6.18].
Jun, Wang. 2015. “Road to Credit.” Beijing Review, 3 August http://www.bjreview.com.cn/business/txt/2015-08/03/content_698269.htm [9.6.18].
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