M anaging the State: Social Credit, Surveillance and the CCP’s Plan for China


Social managements’ roots are in the core ideology of the Chinese Communist Party. The CCP defines itself as the “vanguard of the people”—the Leninist idea that a small group of scientifically guided and educated cadres can lead the people in the direction of social equality and prosperity. Mao Zedong’s organizational guide, the “mass line” describes the same concept. The CCP leadership is explicitly at the top of this hierarchical mass line system. It takes the “scattered and unsystematic ideas of the masses” and forms them into “concentrated and systematic ideas” before taking them back to the masses to “propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own”—Meaning management along scientific principles. [3]

Social management describes a “scientific” Leninist machinery for shaping, managing, and responding. It is best summarized as a complex systems management process through which the Party leadership attempts to manage the Party itself, and through which Party leadership attempts to manage the Party’s interactions with society as a whole. Social management is aimed at ensuring China’s “holistic” or “comprehensive” state security (国家安全). This holistic state security concept is not fundamentally new under Xi Jinping. It includes the western “national security” concept, but, more significantly, is focused on two internal security dimensions. First, managing the Party itself, and second is managing social order (Xinhua, April 15, 2014; Qiushi, April 15, 2017; PLA Daily [archive], December 13, 2000).