China’s social credit system has been derided as Orwellian by many, particularly since much of its implementation is unclear. However, it appears as though the government is adding rewards to the system that should impact travelers in a positive way.
Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport became the first airport in China to try out express security lanes for worthy travelers, which is good news for the more than 45 million passengers who passed through the airport in 2017. The program intends to reduce some of the hassle travelers encounter before boarding flights.
As China doesn’t have its own version of TSA Pre-check and isn’t party to the Global Entry customs program, there has been no way around the ever-growing security lines at the country’s airports. This new program will take into account what Chinese media has called “safety credit” for frequent passengers, essentially allowing a select group of travelers to enter an express lane through security.
Frequent travelers who have a high “safety credit” will be allowed into the express security lane in Shenzhen
The express lanes will have electronic gates at which qualified passengers will scan their national ID card or passport to gain entry. There are no reports on how passengers know whether they qualify for the express lane, however.
While this is the first express lane for trusted travelers, it is not the first dedicated security line at a Chinese airport. The country has piloted programs that include a no-baggage express lane in Guangzhou and Beijing as well as gender-specific lines. This past July, Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, in cooperation with Alibaba Cloud ET Brain, installed facial recognition terminals at all 25 domestic security checkpoints. The airport claims that the program tripled the speed of passenger identification.
The problem that Chinese netizens see is that, like the government’s social credit system, the “safety credit” concept is an opaque one. As of now, the government doesn’t explain how travelers achieve this credit. One Weibo user commented, “How is safety credit evaluated?” Others mused whether trustworthy travelers who may alter their behavior over time will be sent back to longer security lines.
But adding traveler benefits to the nation’s credit system should at least have a positive impact on tourist habits, unlike earlier efforts that included a travel blacklist for those accused of inappropriate behavior abroad.