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Associate Professor Xin Zhang Gave a Lunch Talk at Harvard Law School


On November 13, 2019, the UIBE Law faculty Xin Zhang, who is also the executive director of the UIBE Research Center for Digital Economy & Legal Innovation, was invited to give a lunch talk on “Governance by Numbers: Origins, Present and Future of China’s Social Credit System” in WCC 1010 at Harvard Law School. The lunch talk was jointly organized by the Asian Law Society of Harvard Law School (HALS) and the Rule of Law Association of Harvard Law School. Ya-wen Lei, an Assistant Professor of Sociology Department at Harvard University and the researcher at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies attended the talk as a commentator. After the lunch talk, the HALS also held a coffee chat to discuss China’s social credit system (SCS) with Prof. Xin Zhang and Prof. Ya-wen Lei for one hour and a half. 


Figure 1. Prof. Xin Zhang introduced the Social Credit Score


The lunch talk was consisting of three parts. First, Prof. Xin Zhang introduced the society transition in China as a result of urbanization and modernization. Prof. Zhang indicated that one of the most important dynamics for launching on the SCS project lies in the transformation mechanism between trust formation structure and trust governance methods in Chinese society. Lacking interpersonal trust and institutional trust for the recent years, the SCS has become an innovative and complicated toolkit for rebuilding a trust society. Secondly, Prof. Xin Zhang provided an overview analysis of the SCS from the perspectives of regulatory bodies, regulatory methods, functions and perceptions of the SCS and its operation mechanisms. Taking pilot programs on social credit score as examples, Prof. Zhang explored the origins, applied technologies and legislation status among present credit score generating models. The third parts of the lecture summarized and analyzed the operation mechanisms of social credit score in China. Prof. Zhang pointed out that the operation mechanism of social credit score in China can be mainly divided into four steps: collecting credit information, analyzing credit information and generating scores, classifying and applying scores, and designing corresponding incentivizing measures. The four steps are closely linked to form a closed-loop structure of “scoring feedback”. In the end, the lecture introduced several developments of the SCS from local and national levels.


Figure 2. The audience listened attentively to the lecture


Figure 3 Prof. Zhang and some audience discussed the SCS after the lecture