A Chinese university suspended a student's enrolment because of his dad's bad social credit score

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  • A Chinese student had his enrollment at a university suspended because of his father’s bad social credit score.
  • The father, surnamed Rao, had failed to repay a $US29,900 loan and was added to a debtor blacklist that prevented a university from accepting his son.
  • State media reported that the incident also caused Rao’s social credit score to drop.
  • China is expected to roll out a national social credit system in 2020, but it remains to be seen if citizens will actually be given a “trustworthiness” score or if they will just be subjected to more blacklists.
  • Either way, the punishment seems to have worked. Rao has reportedly repaid his debt.

A student who had been accepted into a Chinese university was denied his spot because of his father’s bad social credit score.

China’s social credit system, due to be rolled out nationally in 2020, is expected to assign a “Black Mirror”-like “trustworthiness” score to every citizen. Until then, the system is split between several pilot projects – some which rate individuals – and a disparate collection of blacklists.

One of these blacklists is designed to punish debtors by preventing them from flying, using high-speed trains, booking fancy hotels, or enrolling their children at expensive schools. This appears to be the type of blacklist the student’s father, identified by his surname Rao, ended up on after failing to pay 200,000 renminbi ($US29,900/£22,600) back to a bank after two years.

Rao was warned by a judge about the possibility of punishments affecting his children, reported state broadcaster CGTN, but still failed to repay his debt.

Though few social credit pilots actually score individuals, CGTN did report that Rao’s failure to pay had caused his score to “drop” and given him a “low score.”

It was this, the state broadcaster reported, that caused a Beijing-based university to suspend their enrollment of Rao’s son.

The move has been controversial in China with What’s On Weibo, a news site reporting on Chinese internet trends, finding 30,000 comments on just one news thread about the story. A handful of other schools have also reportedly rejected applicants because of their parents’ social credit scores.

But despite public outcry, the suspension of Rao’s son was undoubtedly effective. Rao has reportedly paid back the funds and is moving to have his name cleared off the blacklist.

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