Who's not going to Disneyland?
These guys, I'll bet. At least, they might not be coming back anytime soon after an ugly incident that went viral and certainly has gotten the attention of state authorities.
Shanghai Disneyland confirmed to media sources that guests in the park on Thursday swarmed a cast member and stole the souvenir balloons that the cast member had been selling. The balloons cost 80 yuan each, which is about US$11.75. Video caught several guests walking away smiling, with balloons in hand.
Keep in mind that China recently launched a "Social Credit System" that assigns every citizen in the country a score, based upon the state's perception of their trustworthiness. China started this in large part due to ongoing international criticism of terrible behavior by Chinese tourists, including queue jumping, vandalism, and theft. Even if the vast majority of Chinese tourists behave well, with more than billion people in the country, basic math dictates that even a tiny percentage of misbehaving tourists means a huge raw number of embarrassing incidents.
Now, add one more.
Under the social credit system, Chinese citizens with a low score can be denied permission to travel abroad or to buy tickets to domestic attractions, such as Shanghai Disneyland. On the flip side, citizens with high scores can get loans and expedited approval for visas, which has enticed millions of Chinese to volunteer to be monitored and scored in advance of the system becoming mandatory in 2020.
With video evidence likely identifying some of the balloon thieves, it's easy to imagine that they won't be getting allowed to buy more Shanghai Disneyland tickets anytime soon. But China's social credit system is, as the name says, "social" as well. Bad behavior by one can bring down the scores of their family, friends, and associates as well. Without a positive ID on all of the balloon thieves, will China just ding the score of everyone in Shanghai Disneyland on August 23?
Who knows? That's the most chilling element to this system — without complete disclosure of its rules, consequences, and rewards, no one really knows what can get you in trouble. It's like being a kid living with a unpredictable parent. You just keep quiet, keep your head down, and hope for the best.
Which, ultimately, is exactly what the system is designed to encourage people to do.
China is said to be expanding the social credit system to international businesses operating in China, which is why you see things like airlines no longer calling Taiwan a separate country, because they don't want to lose their government permits to fly into China.
Of course, monitoring people like this isn't exclusive to China. Other governments, including the United States, routinely track people crossing their borders and even flying from city to city within. Have you checked your credit score lately? That affects a whole bunch of things you can do in life, including whether or not your are eligible for certain jobs. Those grocery club cards track your purchases, and some people even suspect that our mobile phones are listening to our conversations so websites such as Facebook can show us certain ads. And if you don't think that Disney is watching people to prevent theft in its US theme parks, you're wrong.
Orwell's dystopia is everywhere in modern life. However you feel about that, though, perhaps we all can agree not to be that idiot who steals balloons in a theme park.Tweet
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