There are many things wrong with the Chinese way of doing things, primarily the lack of democracy, individual rights and rule of law at least as the rest of the world understands it, but credit must be given where it’s due. The country insists its citizens take their duties as seriously as their rights. Sometimes, however, it can go too far.
Beijing came up some time go with the national Citizen Credit Record that duly registers a social credit score for each individual based on his/her social, political and economic behaviour. It’s very controversial as it uses CCTVs, artificial intelligence and the internet to monitor, even pry, into all aspects of citizens’ lives to rate their behaviour. It works like a credit rating system -- the higher your CCR score, the more access you get to state resources and benefits.
Now, to add another twist to it which critics assert exposes the essential aim of such surveillance is to bring about change in the individual’s behaviour by the state – Party knows best, after all – it has been decried that smoking in public spaces and other no-smoking zones will also be counted in the CCR. So, illegal smoking will lead to a lower score and could prevent citizens from accessing housing loans and access to flights and trains. We wonder what the chain-smoking Chairman Mao and his successors including Deng Xiaoping would have made of that!