National regulations which plug China’s marriage registration process into the social credit system are increasingly being put into practice.
Under the regulations, which were released at the national level in 2018, brides and grooms are required to sign social credit risk acceptance letters (个人信用风险告知书) as part of the administrative process of marriage licensing. The letters notify registrants that violations of marriage law, if discovered, will result in being placed on a list of “serious violators” for a period of five years, and the offense will be included in marriage records and in the registrant’s national social credit file.
The point of requiring signatures, say marriage office officials, is to raise awareness about social credit and the severity of potential consequences, so that those knowingly intending to marry under false or illegal pretenses can consider potential ramifications before they act.
Four serious violations are outlined in the bill:
- Using fraudulent or counterfeit documentation to apply for marriage
- Falsely attesting that there’s no family relationship within three generations between the two parties
- Concealing a lack of “civil capacity” – i.e. being a minor, mentally incapacitated, or otherwise not legally able to consent to the marriage
- “Other violations of national marriage law”
Any person included on the violators list will be subject to a series of penalties by various state agencies under the Unified Rewards and Punishments System (learn more about that here). Penalties include:
- Restrictions on holding certain jobs: Violators may not be hired as a civil servant or be considered for a post at public institutions, and may not hold a senior management position or serve as the legal representative at financial institutions or state-owned enterprises
- Difficulty obtaining professional qualifications: The violation will impact violators ability to obtain qualifications as lawyers, teachers, doctors, social workers, certified public accountants, tax agents, certification practitioners, securities and futures practitioners, journalists or tour guides.
- Ineligibility to participate in certain “outstanding employee” selection processes: If the violators are lawyers, teachers, doctors or civil servants, they may not receive career-related awards and honors.
- Lowered potential for success in government bidding: The violation will be taken into consideration if the violator is involved in submitting bids for government procurement.
- Unfavorable loan conditions: The violation will be taken into consideration by financial institutions when the violator is applying for loans.
- Ineligibility for good citizenship awards: May not receive certain state-issued honors for good citizenship, and any existing awards and honors will be revoked.
Though these regulations hit the national books at the beginning of last year, they’ve only recently begun to filter down to the provinces, where the nitty gritty implementation is taking place. Guangzhou, for example, released a local trial of the law in February, marriage bureaus in Henan have been requiring signed social credit risk promise notes since July, and the bill has gone into effect in certain city districts in Chongqing at the beginning of this month.