Alex Trauth-Goik

Title: Reconceptualising China’s ‘Social Credit System’: From ‘Social Credit’ to ‘Social Trust’?

Abstract: This talk explores how the reverence of the past within Chinese language and culture is spurring the rapid development of China’s Social Credit System (SCS) as well as the widespread acceptance of the norms and behaviours this system seeks to encourage among the country’s general population. Through an analysis of the promotion of the SCS within state media and the government’s Core Socialist Values propaganda campaign, it shows how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seeks to strengthen its ruling hegemony by linking its legitimacy to a Confucian moral framework already broadly accepted within Chinese society. In reference to the route character morpheme xi4n 信, meaning ‘trust’, commonly used within the promotion of the SCS, the argument is made that the translation ‘Social Credit System’ is no longer useful in conveying the essence of what in reality has become a multidimensional and metarelational attempt at state-wide etiquette building. A new translation ‘Social Trust System’, is subsequently advanced to distinguish public perception of the SCS in China as a measure to improve quality of life and facilitate the creation of an honest society rather than as a system of surveillance threatening civil liberties.

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Biography: Alex Trauth-Goik is a PhD candidate at the University of Wollongong whose research focuses on the civil liberty implications associated with the development and application of new surveillance technologies. He has previously worked for the media intelligence company Meltwater as a government media analyst. In 2017 he graduated with First Class Honours in International Studies majoring in Chinese Mandarin from the University of Wollongong.