Why does the Chinese Communist party want my credit history?

Citizens and consumers in liberal democracies should fear the rise of the CCP

I was one of them.

One of the 147 million Americans who had their information compromised in the epic 2017 Equifax data breach. It was one of the largest hacks in history, leaking the names, social security numbers, addresses, and credit history of over a third of the country.

At first, we were led to believe it was the result of sloppy cybersecurity and greedy hackers who wanted credit card data.

But now, according to last week’s indictment from the Justice Department, we know it was the handiwork of four members of China’s military.

To think it was a few renegade black hat hackers with expensive tastes was upsetting enough, but now to learn it was the long arm of the Chinese Communist party? This is serious.

What do the Chinese communists want with my credit history? Is it to spam me with emails or offers in the mail? Or, worst-case scenario, to add me and millions of my fellow Americans to their ‘social score’ database so our behaviors can be ranked and judged? 

Most of the fallout between liberal democratic nations and China in the last few years has been over governmental policy: trade spats, currency manipulation, and theft of intellectual property. These high-level issues were problematic enough, and now it seems China’s desire to exert control over the US is directly affecting the people. 

We’ve known for years that Chinese Communist Party censors have made creeping demands in Hollywood: Tibetan monks replaced with Celtic ones in Marvel’s Doctor Strange, Tom Cruise’s bomber jacket with the Taiwan flag removed in the Top Gun sequel, and cut scenes in Bohemian Rhapsody to obscure that Freddie Mercury was gay.

When Quentin Tarantino refused to edit his latest movie, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, to please Chinese censors, they pulled its release date. It was eventually shipped to Chinese cinemas, but it’s uncertain if portions of the film were cut.

China has the world’s second-largest movie market, making it no surprise that with Chinese capital comes more aggressive demands for censorship. Will they allow any criticism of Chinese communism, or even praise of liberal democracies? What about a potential movie about the brave Hong Kong protesters fighting for their liberties?

Mike Pompeo recently warned American governors to be wary of any dealings with institutions or businesses with significant ties to China. 

‘They’ve labeled each of you friendly, hardline or ambiguous,’ he said. ‘And, in fact, whether you are viewed by the Communist party of China as friendly or hardline, know that it’s working you, know that it’s working the team around you.’

These revelations about the insidious nature of the Chinese government come at a critical time. 

The Hong Kong protests continue after months of mounting force from police. Fears of the spread of the Coronavirus have emboldened Chinese authorities to fully exercise their authoritarianism: canceling the Chinese New Year, a complete lockdown of Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, and arrests of doctors and health workers who shared their concerns about the virus on social media.

The Chinese people, at least, are beginning to wake up to the antics of their government. Li Wenliang, a doctor who was threatened by police for ‘fear mongering’ about the Coronavirus, which later took his life, was labeled a hero for his efforts to spread the truth about the disease. But it will take many more acts of courage to cause a total paradigm shift in the minds of the people.

From the theft of credit information to entertainment censorship and brutal authoritarian crackdowns, it’s clear that citizens and consumers in liberal democracies have something to fear in the rise of the Chinese Communist party. 

For our part, we must continue to champion our free societies as bulwarks against the authoritarian regime. We must fight for the ideas and principles that have helped make liberal democratic countries great stewards of our liberties.

Originally published here.

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Consumer Choice Center Launches 21Democracy Project to Counter Authoritarian Influence

Consumer Choice Center Launches 21Democracy Project to Counter Authoritarian Influence

Washington, D.C. – Today the Consumer Choice Center is announcing a new initiative aimed at countering the influence of authoritarian regimes on consumers around the world.

The goal of 21Democracy is to highlight the risks for consumer choice, privacy, human rights, national security, and intellectual property in the light of rising authoritarianism across the globe.

“The narrative of authoritarian regimes unduly influencing consumers and policies in liberal democracies is ongoing and we must be persistent in opposing it where possible,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the D.C.-based Consumer Choice Center.

“Whether it’s the actions of Putin’s Russia or the Chinese Communist Party, we cannot compromise the underpinnings of our liberal democratic systems in the face of authoritarian regimes.”

Articles on this theme have already been published in Politico EU and La Tribune.

Specifically, the Consumer Choice Center is deeply concerned about the threat the Communist Party of China (CPC) poses to consumers, particularly invasions of their privacy and intellectual rights. 

Too many western politicians and media figures have turned a blind eye to the threat that some Chinese companies, often de facto controlled by the Communist Party, pose to their constituents.

While we acknowledge the importance of global trade as a driver for consumer choice and prosperity, we also see the risk of this principle being hijacked by bad players. (Self-)Censorship in western movie productions and 5G networks being controlled by an authoritarian surveillance state are just two worrisome examples. 

Liberal democracies such as the EU, Canada, and the United States need to find a common approach to protect citizens from the rising influence stemming from authoritarian players such as communist China.

21Democracy aims to serve as a networking, awareness, and activation platform for combatting this threat to freedom. We will speak up when others stay silent, we build bridges between policymakers, business leaders, and government from liberal democracies, and we will lobby for policies that preserve freedom and individual liberties.

To begin these efforts, the Consumer Choice Center joined activists from Students For Liberty in Miami at the Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat game last week to protest the NBA’s silencing of dissent of its athletes and coaches when it comes to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. 

They chanted in solidarity with the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and spoke with fellow attendees to disapprove of the league’s position on political dissent in Hong Kong.

More information about 21Democracy can be found on the website 21Democracy.com.

Yaël Ossowski
Deputy Director
Consumer Choice Center

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. 

We represent consumers in over 100 countries across the globe and closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

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