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China and 'Religious' People - Social Credit System

(China) Shandong has become the first province in China to assign individual social credit scores to religious personnel. This discriminatory and restrictive measure was deliberated during a trial implementation work conference.


“Administrative Measures on the Credits of Shandong Province’s Religious Personnel (Trial Implementation),” indicates that the province’s credit scoring for religious personnel will be implemented province-wide. This signals further comprehensive control of church personnel belonging to state-sanctioned churches.


A report of the “Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee” of Shandong province stated that from August 21st to 22nd, a trial implementation advancement conference was held on the credit management of religious personnel. The Party member group leader of the Provincial Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee, Luo Jun, attended the meeting and delivered a speech. More than 30 people gathered from cities and counties in the province, including Zibo, Rizhao, Linyi, Dezhou, Qingzhou, Taian, and Taishan District.


The meeting pointed out that the trial implementation has been exploring and practicing the collection, identification, evaluation, and application of credit information of religious personnel. It has developed typical experience and practice, and achieved phased results, providing important references and beneficial insights for the smooth advancement of the trial implementation throughout the province.


During the meeting, members required areas in various parts of Shandong province, which were part of the trial, should enhance their ideological awareness. Respective areas should also take credit build-up as the focal point to support strict management of religious affairs. The focus of the measures is to enhance political consciousness.

The Shandong Provincial Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee launched these on September 27, 2022. Shandong is the first province in China to formulate and implement such policies on a trial basis.


On March 17, 2023, the government-controlled Christian associations of Jinan City, Shandong Province, held a meeting at the Jingsi Road Church to initiate and implement credit management for church personnel in the city.


The credit assessment for religious personnel will comprehensively curb the expression and practice of Christian faith among religious personnel. Shandong Province’s launch categorizes credit information into three types: basic information, adverse information, and honorary information. Through the provincial “Smart Religion Information Platform,” data exchange is conducted, and data is collected and entered by the religious affairs departments at provincial, city, and county levels, as well as religious organizations. The credit evaluation is divided into five levels: excellent, good, fair, poor, and very poor, implementing a classification system.


Government-registered religious personnel will face stringent restrictions on expressing their faith. Authorities will categorize religious personnel according to the Christian faith contents expressed by them, and some may be classified as “adverse behavior” or “causing negative effects.” What constitutes “adverse behavior” or “causing negative effects” will be determined by the officials of the relevant government departments.


The local religious authorities in Shandong province state their goal is to carry on the spirit of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and Chairman Xi Jinping’s directive of comprehensive “strict governance of religion.”


Religion is subject to significant discrimination under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party. The social credit scoring and monitoring measures targeted at religious personnel by the Shandong government are among the severe discriminatory actions. These credit scores differ from those in the financial system; they are based on specific ideological criteria. If religious personnel are subjected to such targeted credit scoring, should there be similar credit scoring systems established for professionals in other sectors as well?

~Gao Zhensai, Special Correspondent of ChinaAid

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