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Chinese researchers who stray could face “social penalties”

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That might include not being able to get a loan, run a company, or apply for a job:

The policy, announced last month, is an extension of the country’s controversial ‘social credit system’, where failure to comply with the rules of one government agency can mean facing restrictions or penalties from other agencies.

The punishment overhaul is the government’s latest measure to crack down on misconduct. But the nature and extent of the policy has surprised many researchers. “I have never seen such a comprehensive list of penalties for research misconduct elsewhere in the world,” says Chien Chou, a scientific integrity education researcher at Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.

As of April, the number of times people were denied airline tickets as a result of the system reached 11 million, and train tickets were denied on 4.2 million occasions. More than two million people have paid debts or fines after facing these restrictions. David Cyranoski, “China introduces ‘social’ punishments for scientific misconduct” at Nature

If the usual pattern in totalitarian countries prevails, “misconduct” need not mean what it means in, say, the United States. It could mean failing to produce the results higher ups want, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or being in the way of someone’s advancement or a targeted member of a minority group. And penalties could go beyond the ones mentioned. It’s a far cry from the professional self-discipline a field needs.

Read Solzhenitsyn.

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See also: A chilling snippet from mass surveillance in China

and

Digital dictatorship: China’s “social credit” system coming under scrutiny

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