China Expands Job, Travel Bans for Those Who Defy Court Orders

(Bloomberg) -- China’s top judge vowed to strengthen rules barring those who defy court orders from making investments and holding certain jobs, as the country expands its “social credit” system of incentives and punishments.

“One who is dishonest in one aspect will face restrictions everywhere,” Supreme People’s Court President Zhou Qiang told an international gathering of judges and other law enforcement representatives Tuesday in Shanghai. The court was already restricting “defaulters” from traveling, buying homes and holding high-level jobs, among other things, he said, without giving specifics.

The push to give court judgments more teeth is just one prong of a nationwide campaign to impose persistent costs on everyone from corrupt public officials to rude airline passengers. The ruling Communist Party is advancing plans to implement the social credit system nationwide by 2020, with local trials already covering some 6 percent of the population and the capital Beijing set to begin its program next year.

Chinese judges are promoting the measures, which cover rewards for good behavior, as well as punishments for bad acts, among participants from more than 30 countries at the World Enforcement Conference this week in Shanghai.

The Supreme People’s Court set up the system of restrictions on people who don’t abide by court verdicts in 2014. Meng Xiang, head of the court’s executive department, told the gathering the judiciary was pursing additional legislation to regulate the behavior of those who fail to pay or engage suspicious financial activity such as opening multiple bank accounts and registering property in others’ people’s names.

As of the end of last year, people with low credit had been prevented from taking more than 17 million flights, 5 million train trips and blocked from acting as executives or legal business representatives 290,000 times, according the Supreme People’s Court. More than 3.5 million people “have obeyed court rules under pressure,” Zhou said.

While the government touts the social credit system as an attempt to restore trust, raise standards and uphold often-flouted basic laws, it’s also providing the government with a powerful tool to maintain order. On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned the party of “serious dangers” to its rule, citing concerns ranging from politics and ideology to the economy, environment and external situation.

Meng said the court would seek to formalize punishment for people who don’t comply with verdicts. “We will promote the enactment of relevant laws and judicial interpretations,” he said.

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