The Problem of Virtual Co-Location: China’s Social Credit System and the Legal System of the Hong Kong SAR

The National-level policy for the development of a Social Credit System (SCS) in the PRC has been laid out in a Planning Outline adopted by the State Council in 2014. Due to be fully implemented by 2020, the SCS consists of a socially-embedded informational platform for reciprocal reporting and decision-making based on the ascription of unified credit scores to people and institutions, encompassing all aspects of social life. By engendering a reflexive mechanism for social evaluation rooted in merit and grounding the conduct of public affairs in such a mechanism, the SCS has the potential to profoundly redefine China’s public sphere. This paper questions whether and how the SCS’s soft-law-based fabric might travel into Hong Kong’s legal system. Whereas the SCS is set to encompass “all information subjects … and all regions nationwide” – which may include the Hong Kong SAR and its residents – would this be compatible with Hong Kong’s constitutional order and the values that underpin it?