Category: China News

China’s Social Credit System

China has introduced a “social credit system”. The target of this system is “to give each of China’s 1.4 billion citizens a personal credit score. The social credit system assigns both positive and negative scores for individual or corporate behaviour in an attempt to pressure citizens into behaving. The Chinese government has built up a data-driven system which automatically generates ratings for each Chinese citizen, business and authority based on whether the government and their fellow citizens consider them trustworthy.” The system is expected to be fully in place by 2020, but is already partially working.

The general reaction inside China at this initial stage seems to be favourable, with Chinese citizens feeling it brings security and ‘trustworthiness’ to them because bad citizens and companies should be revealed and restricted.

Recently Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post gave an analysis. “Millions of Chinese individuals and businesses have been labelled as untrustworthy on an official blacklist banning them from any number of activities, including accessing financial markets or travelling by air or train … Over 3.59 million Chinese enterprises were added to the official creditworthiness blacklist last year, banning them from bidding on projects, accessing security markets, taking part in land auctions and issuing corporate bonds.”

“This ‘untrustworthy conduct’ of individuals and businesses also includes charges of swindling customers, failing to repay loans, illegal fund collection, false and misleading advertising, as well as uncivilised behaviour such as taking reserved seats on trains or causing trouble in hospitals”… Also included were “provocations on flights, attempting to take a lighter through airport security, smoking on a high-speed train, tax evasion and failing to pay fines, employers who failed to pay social insurance, those who spread false information about terrorism.
The results are punishing. “About 17.46 million ‘discredited’ people were restricted from buying plane tickets and 5.47 million were restricted from purchasing high-speed train tickets… Besides restrictions on buying tickets, local authorities also used novel methods to put pressure on untrustworthy subjects, including preventing people from buying premium insurance, wealth management products or real estate, as well as shaming them by exposing their information in public.”

Certainly there are positive results of the system as “a total of 3.51 million untrustworthy individuals and entities repaid their debts or paid off taxes and fines last year due to pressure from the social credit system.”
But there are serious negatives: “Lawyers worry that the accelerated use of the creditworthiness system will violate an individual’s right to privacy… Many people cannot pay their debt because they are too poor but will be subject to this kind of surveillance and this kind of public shaming. It violates the rights of human beings.’”

But the biggest issue is how far the system will be taken. Could attendance at church or a house group, monitored by China’s 400 million surveillance cameras, result in Christians being given drastically low credit ratings with all the ‘punishments’ that will bring to them?

Source: South China Morning Post

Pray that the social credit system will not be used to harm Christian believers or restrict their attendance at Christian meetings.

Pray that the system would be used only to bring security and law-abiding attitudes to China’s citizens.

Pray that those who continue to develop and run the system would have a sense of justice and genuine protection for all of China’s citizens.

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The mission movement coming out of the Far East...

This week, as I was travelling on Taipei’s recent but excellent Metro system, I suddenly heard my name in Chinese being called by another passenger. I looked round and saw a young lady was calling out my name. As we chatted, I discovered that she was a graduate of the Barnabas School Of Missions, a school that I started here in Taipei about 10 years ago, to train local Chinese speaking believers in cross-cultural mission.

But what really encouraged me was her ongoing comment “I am going for six months to a middle Eastern country to work as a missionary next year.” That kind of unexpected encouragement makes the work we do in the schools of mission in Taiwan and China all worthwhile.

I should have retired by now...

We work to encourage Christian believers here to learn how to do cross-cultural work, and then to go out into the field. I should have retired by now (!), but I have a strong conviction that we are about to see a great wave of missionaries from China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries go out from their Chinese churches. So training and encouraging those who go and those who send, keeps Christine and myself busy in the Far East.

As far as Taiwan is concerned, there is a rather unique problem. The church to which I am connected here has planted over 400 churches worldwide. That’s exciting, of course. But the problem is that almost all of these churches speak Chinese, even though they might be in Paris or London or Delhi or wherever! That is pretty logical when you think of it, because wherever you go you’ll bump into Chinese, and indeed probably many of them. So it’s a great idea to serve them.

The challenge of language.

But my challenge is that it doesn’t help the local population of most countries to have a Chinese speaking church in their capital or elsewhere, because locals would then have to learn Chinese before they can hear about Jesus! And that, simply put, is not going to happen.

So the challenge for Chinese believers, here in Taiwan and elsewhere, is to learn other languages and understand other cultures, to then reach their new neighbours!

That mission movement has started. It’s exciting. But it’s only a beginning, it’s a trickle on the beach, not a tsunami wave. But I believe that will come. That’s why FieldPartner is currently building a Chinese school of missions online, using first language Chinese speakers with experience of cross-cultural mission.

We are putting the physical schools that we have run successfully in Taiwan and China on to the internet. That way any Chinese speaking person anywhere can be trained and prepared for mission. Then one day it won’t be just one voice on the Metro, it’ll be a chorus of folk saying they’ve been trained and they are about to go!


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Chinese Christians murdered in Pakistan

At the time of writing there is some confusion regarding the deaths of two young Chinese in Pakistan. But this much is clear. Meng Li Si and Li Xinheng were abducted on May 24th in Quetta, the capital city of Baluchistan province in Pakistan. Pakistan authorities confirmed their deaths saying they had been abducted by the Islamic State. The Pakistan source also claimed that they were “preachers” who were aged 24 and 26. They were teachers in a local private school.

It was also reported that the two victims and another 11 Chinese arrived in Pakistan holding business visas. The owner of the organization for which they worked is a Korean Christian who was reported to be carrying out local missionary work. He was said to be still in Pakistan.

A friend of theirs who was interviewed stated that "They came to Pakistan for work. They were close friends." She said that the two and the other 13 Chinese taught Chinese in the Korean-run language institute. Each was paid 30,000 rupees (about US$286) a month. She explained that they studied Urdu recently because they had to do so as part of their teaching requirements. Their language institute didn't have a name and was set up in a house beside a white mosque without any mark or advertisement. "I have never seen people kinder than them," the friend said.

Chinese state media took a very unsympathetic view, especially Global Times. They claim government sources laid heavy blame on the Korean missionary who allegedly organized the mission work, as well as on the two young Chinese missionaries themselves, insinuating they were naïvely duped into going to Pakistan. A Global Times report noted that this incident should “serve as a lesson” to other Chinese.

However, Steve Schirmer writing in “West Courtyard” makes two powerful points:

Firstly, Schirmer writes, “I want to address (the matter of) their business visa. The Pakistani government seems to be focusing one of their criticisms on the reality that these two people were living there on a questionable business visa. Whether their visa was legitimate or not is not the cause of their death. They did not die because they lived on a questionable business visa. Mr. Li and Ms Lu were targeted, kidnapped, and murdered because they were declaring the message of Jesus Christ to Muslims. That is why they were killed. ISIL does not care if they did business or studied the Urdu language. They only cared that these two and others were in Pakistan to advance the message of the Christ.”

Secondly, Schirmer comments: “For many years, the Christian community, especially in the West, has been saying something to the effect that Chinese believers are better equipped to serve in places like Pakistan than Western Christians. That has never been proven and is unfortunately proven false by this event…. The presence of a Chinese Christian is not necessarily more effective than their Western counterpart because they are Chinese. The Chinese face the same risks that any one of us may face.” (Sources ChinaSource; West Courtyard; Reuters; China Christian Daily.)

Prayer topics (from Steve Schirmer)

We need to pray for China and its church.

We need to pray for the loved ones of Mr. Li and Ms. Lu.

We need to pray and ask God to give them strength to persevere and not give up.

We need to challenge the Chinese church to pray for ISIL and ask God to raise up modern day Apostle Pauls from within the ISIL ranks.

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