A province in northern China developed an app to tell users whether they are within a 500-meter radius of someone in debt, state media said.

  • It’s called a “map of deadbeat debtors,” the China Daily state-run newspaper reported.
  • It hopes to get citizens to monitor the so-called debtors and report them to authorities if they seem “capable of paying their debts.”

It’s part of China’s invasive “social credit” system, designed to judge a person’s trustworthiness. People have already been punished by it.

A province in northern China developed an app to tell people whether they are walking near someone in debt, according to state media.

The app, named the “map of deadbeat debtors,” rolled out to people in Hebei, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported. They can access it on WeChat, the country’s most popular instant-messaging platform.


The “map of deadbeat debtors” WeChat program. WeChat via China Daily

The program appears to tell users when they are within a 500-meter radius of someone in debt.

It shows the debtor’s location, according to a screenshot of the app. It’s not clear if this the debtor’s exact location or a previously registered address.

The app appears to show the debtor’s full name, according to screenshots posted by the Guangzhou Daily on Weibo.

It’s not clear if the app shows the debtor’s photo or any other identity marker.

The program does, however, describe the so-called debtors as “lao lai,” who are people who have defaulted on court mandates to repay loans.

It’s not clear how much money one must owe — or to whom — to be defined as a debtor in this instance.

The app wants to get citizens to keep an eye on the so-called debtors.

China Daily said it would let people “whistle-blow on debtors capable of paying their debts.”

It did not say what behavior could flag someone as capable of paying their debts.

Chinese families traditionally emphasize saving money to avoid spending with borrowed money or owing personal debt.


The “deadbeat debtors” map wants to get citizens to monitor so-called debtors and report them to authorities if they seem as if they could repay their debts. Reuters/Edgar Su

Social-credit system

The new program was described as part of China’s social-credit system, which aims to reinforce the idea that “keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful,” according to a 2014 government document.

It essentially judges a person’s trustworthiness using measures like their ability to pay off loans and their behavior on public transport. The system will be mandatory in 2020, the government said.

At the moment the system is piecemeal — various local authorities, such as Hebei province, have been coming up with their own measures to comply with the government system.

Some already run prototype blacklists that list people’s names and partially redacted ID numbers.

Some people have already been penalized by the system. More than 6,000 people who failed to pay their taxes or misbehaved on public transport were barred from taking planes or trains in and out of the country between June and January, state media reported.

Via Business Insider