A Brief Prehistory of China’s Social Credit System

By Min Jiang

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte & CyberBRICS Visiting Professor


This article situates China’s social credit system (SCS) in a historical perspective by exploring its antecedents. The historical roots of the SCS can be found in personnel archives for officials during imperial times, the Dang’an (personnel dossier) system under Communist rule, and the failed legislative proposal to establish “morality files” on Chinese citizens in the early 2010s. By recognizing their historical continuity and disjuncture, the article places the SCS in its unique sociocultural contexts and provides alternative narratives to the current dominant framing of the SCS.

Keywords: Social Credit System, Dang’an, morality files, dossier, personal data, digital governance, media history

Suggested Citation: Jiang, M. (Forthcoming). A brief prehistory of China’s Social Credit System. Communication & the Public. Available at SSRN: