On August 23, SCMP covered yet another social media snafu involving controversial MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong, whose Weibo account was deleted by censors after he made posts containing comments about the protests in Hong Kong.
This isn’t Xu’s first censorship rodeo. The fighter made headlines earlier this year for taking a public stance against “fake kungfu” and insulting Taichi grandmaster Chen Xiaowang, for which he was ordered to pay RMB 400,000 in damages and added to the Supreme People’s Court social credit blacklist on luxury consumption.
Blacklisting is usually applied to individuals under several specific circumstances, most commonly:
- Failure to pay court-ordered debts or carry-out court-ordered judgements
- Bad or disruptive behavior aboard aircraft or high-speed rail
- Holding a management position in a company which is in violation of any number of operational regulations
Xu’s case falls under the first of those. We may be splitting hairs here, but it bears pointing out that he was included on the blacklist due to outstanding damages owed, not as a direct result of his opinions, and he was later removed from the blacklist after making a public apology and paying the court-ordered fines.
Xu wasn’t blacklisted for his comments on Hong Kong, so this is not a clear case of the social credit system being used to silence dissent. But he is unrepentant in his outspokenness on topics authorities find unpalatable, making his case an interesting social credit barometer. How the social credit system treats him, and other likes him, now and in the future will give us a good indication of how political the blacklisting system becomes.
Learn the details of how blacklisting works in our new report, Understanding China’s Social Credit System.