Laowhy86 (@laowhy86) — aka Matthew Tye, aka C-Milk — shared the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of life as an American in China on his YouTube channel for 10 years until he caught the attention of the CCP and barely escaped. This is his story. [This is part one of a two-part episode. Continue to part two here!]
What We Discuss with Laowhy86:
- What the Chinese social credit system is, the factors that increase or diminish someone’s score, and the consequences someone with a low score faces.
- How the Kremlin is cribbing the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda playbook for its own nefarious purposes.
- Why, after 10 years of having mostly positive things to say about life in China, Laowhy86 suddenly found himself on the run from the authorities and barely escaping the country.
- How Laowhy86 went from lifestyle vlogging to covering things mainstream journalists couldn’t (or wouldn’t) touch.
- Myths perpetrated by the CCP that need to be dispelled.
- And much more…
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A man who alternately goes by Laowhy86, C-Milk, or Matthew Tye is no stranger to walking in different worlds. For 10 years, he shared his experiences of an American living in China as one of the first YouTubers in the country, offering a unique perspective on the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of life there.
But things changed when Laowhy86 attracted the attention of the Chinese Communist Party and he had to flee the country — barely escaping with his freedom. On this episode, we discuss how Laowhy86 went from lifestyle vlogging about quaint cultural differences to covering things mainstream journalists couldn’t (or wouldn’t) touch, how the Chinese social credit score system works, what Russia has done to bolster its propaganda machine with the help of the CCP’s blueprints, and much more. Listen, learn, and enjoy! [This is part one of a two-part episode. Continue to part two here!]
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Miss the conversation we had with scambuster Coffeezilla? Catch up with episode 368: Coffeezilla | How to Expose Fake Guru Scams here!
If you enjoyed this session with Laowhy86, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- ADV Podcasts
- Laowhy86 | YouTube
- Laowhy86 | Twitter
- Laowhy86 | Instagram
- Laowhy86 | Facebook
- How Does China’s Social Credit System Work? by Laowhy86 | YouTube
- Is China’s Social Credit System Real? I Found Out by Laowhy86 | YouTube
- Chinese Girl Tries American Chinese Food by Laowhy86 | YouTube
- SerpentZA | YouTube
- Conquering Southern China | IMDb
- Conquering Northern China | IMDb
- China Doesn’t Want You to Know About This Place by Laowhy86 | YouTube
- Uncovering China’s Uyghur Propaganda Campaign by Laowhy86 | YouTube
- Is China Rich or Poor? by Laowhy86 | YouTube
- Black Mirror | Amazon
- The Real Reason John Cena Apologized For Calling Taiwan a Country | Esquire
- How China’s TikTok, Facebook Influencers Push Propaganda | AP News
- Chained Woman in China – The True Story by Laowhy86 | YouTube
- How I Escaped from China – The Untold Story by Laowhy86 | YouTube
- How I Got My Family Out of China by Laowhy86 | YouTube
643: Laowhy86 | How the Chinese Social Credit Score System Works Part One
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:03] Laowhy86: Again, it's one of those things that, "Oh, look, we can stop these like bad, rude people by taking their image when they jaywalk before the cross light comes on." And then immediately on a screen next to it, they'll show their face. In some cases I've seen, it showed their ID number, their government ID number, and then say, "This person has been fined or deducted points because they jaywalked." And it's really dystopian and horrifying to see because, you know, at least someone that with experience with China knows actually what that's being implemented, what uses that is being implemented for, not just jaywalking.
[00:00:41] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists and entrepreneurs, spies and psychologists, even the occasional Russian chess grandmaster, investigative journalist, tech mogul, or economic hitman. And each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical.
[00:01:08] If you're new to the show, or you're looking for a way to tell your friends about it, I highly suggest our episode starter packs. These are collections of our favorite episodes, organized by topic. That'll help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show — topics like disinformation, cyber warfare, abnormal psychology, China, North Korea, crime, cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started or take a look in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:35] Today, a good friend of mine and one of the first travel vloggers ever. One of the first two vloggers living in China in the early odds, living there for a decade. He knows a lot about China and he knows it firsthand. Again, he's a good friend of mine and a super interesting guy whose content I just love. He's one of the only YouTubers that actually bothered to watch. Today, we'll uncover the Chinese social credit system, how it really works from the inside. Matt Laowhy has actually read the actual Chinese government documents and translated them for us. So we're going to discuss that, see how the system works and what it does. Also, we'll hear how Matt had to literally escape from China, just barely made it out of the country where he is now somewhat of a wanted man. And finally, how propaganda methods on YouTube pioneered by the Chinese communist party have been adopted now by the Kremlin, which is why we're seeing a lot more pro-Putin propaganda online. That's eerily similar to the pro-CCP disinformation, the pro-Chinese Communist Party disinformation that we're seeing online, especially on video sites like YouTube and other social media.
[00:02:35] This is a two-parter with a lot to discuss. Here we go with Laowhy.
[00:02:41] So you've got this green screen and as people can see if they're watching us and I suggested Ian to put you, our editor, put you in a fish tank. I've watched your podcast on YouTube. It's the only — I don't watch things on YouTube. I certainly don't watch podcasts with two dudes talking to each other, but your show, I will watch most of the time just because of the topic, yeah. And you know, we're friends that always helps. I don't watch my other friend's shows, so I don't know what I'm talking about, but either way, the green screen, you guys put like footage of China, street in China, not like necessarily cars, but people riding around in the little bikes or like scooters or walking around in a shopping district. And since you don't live in China anymore, I was asking how you got that footage. And tell me what you just said because that's like a perfect frame for this whole interview somehow.
[00:03:24] Laowhy86: Yeah. So we have some guys, we have Chinese people, we have a couple of foreigners, we have people that are sympathetic to what we're trying to do, when we're trying to criticize and bring out the faults of the Chinese government and expose the lack of freedoms there. And what they'll do is they'll go out with a tripod or their camera or whatever, and they'll go fill in the street scene. But all of the people like our detractors and people that try to rat us out or rat out people that help us to the Chinese government, try to catch them. What happens is they'll send us like a batch of footage that they've just taken two weeks prior and we'll use it two weeks later.
[00:03:57] So then like when the cops are running around scrambling to find people who have shot that footage around a certain time, that they think has been shot, they can never catch them. So it was pretty funny. It's like this cat and mouse chase, and we do it in a way with multiple people in different cities around China. So they still haven't caught anyone, but they've come pretty close a couple of times.
[00:04:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I mean, I guess it could be two weeks or it could be six months. That's the beauty of it. And you could rotate something that you have. That's old, just so people aren't like, "Oh, good. I look back two weeks." It's like, "No, no, no, no. We're wasting tons of police officer's time by juggling clips that maybe got filmed for us and also could be anywhere from 14 days to 14-months-old.
[00:04:33] Laowhy86: Yeah. And some of the stuff is stuff that we took. We shot. I mean, my buddy—
[00:04:37] Jordan Harbinger: Years ago.
[00:04:37] Laowhy86: —Winston, @SerpentZA, the first YouTuber in China, he shot, I mean, I'm going to say like, probably 50 hours of footage.
[00:04:45] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:04:45] Laowhy86: It's a lot of stuff to use.
[00:04:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It's like, it'd be like, "Yeah, look, look, what's going on outside my window right now." And it's like dudes in bell-bottoms and stuff like rolling back, roller skating on those four-wheeled, roller skates and mini skirts. Like, yeah, this is outside my window right now.
[00:04:59] Laowhy86: Dates the footage.
[00:05:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, someone's got like a G-Shock watch. That's that big.
[00:05:06] Laowhy86: I mean, to be honest, that you'd still see people rocking Chairman Mao t-shirts, you know, you could that doesn't date the footage at all.
[00:05:13] Jordan Harbinger: So thanks for doing the show, man. It's funny. We started off wanting to do this segment on Russian propaganda, Chinese propaganda. It turned into a segment on propaganda on YouTube. And then I was like, this is a good end of a show, but we need to do the beginning of the show. What am I going to do? And that was like, let's just work the entire weekend and do a podcast instead of, you know, I don't know, sleeping and relaxing, eating.
[00:05:34] Laowhy86: For sure.
[00:05:35] Jordan Harbinger: But I'm going to start by patting myself on the back, which I rarely do, but I gave you a great idea for a video.
[00:05:39] Laowhy86: Yeah.
[00:05:40] Jordan Harbinger: A really good one, and I couldn't make it. I wanted to know how the social credit system in China actually worked. And I don't even know anybody who could answer it. Google had almost no answers for them. And you were the guy to make it. The only video that's more popular on your channel, by the way, is what's like your wife tries to buy seafood for the first time or something.
[00:06:01] Laowhy86: That's Chinese girl tries American Chinese food for the first time, you know, the fake stuff.
[00:06:05] Jordan Harbinger: Right, yeah, like the sweet and sour or General Tsao's chicken or whatever.
[00:06:09] Laowhy86: That's the kind of stuff I used to shoot when I would be like visiting my parents from China to go back home, right? And I'd be like, I have nothing to shoot. I have no content because I'm not in China. So I would go and come up with these like novel ideas basically. And that's being massively viral.
[00:06:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I feel like that started a whole thing.
[00:06:25] Laowhy86: Yeah. That is the most popular video that's ever been shot in my hometown of all time. Like ever.
[00:06:31] Jordan Harbinger: Well, I mean, to be fair, you're not exactly from a major city.
[00:06:36] Laowhy86: No.
[00:06:36] Jordan Harbinger: I won't ask you to dox yourself but—
[00:06:38] Laowhy86: No, I'm from upstate New York.
[00:06:40] Jordan Harbinger: There's not a whole lot going on out there, yeah.
[00:06:42] Laowhy86: No.
[00:06:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, exactly. So the point was not how boring your town was, but more about how the social credit system is only becoming more and more interesting for people, myself and people listening, because frankly—
[00:06:55] Laowhy86: Yeah.
[00:06:56] Jordan Harbinger: I'm not alarmist. Like we're going to have that in the United States, but it's obviously being rolled out all through China. And it's only a matter of time till every authoritarian regime is like, "This is genius. And it works really well. Let's implement something like that here." And North Korea, despite being technologically behind has similar things that are just done manually and on paper. And it's just a favorite thing with authoritarians. I will have introduced you properly by now in the show, but you lived in China for eight-plus years. So you're not just like a dude who has great Google-fu and speaks Mandarin, right?
[00:07:28] Laowhy86: That's right. Yeah, I lived in China for 10 years. I lived in the south of China. So in Guangdong province. If you think of Hong Kong, like the mainland part of that part, that's connected to that.
[00:07:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:07:38] Laowhy86: And I lived in inner Mongolia, which a lot of people mix up with Mongolia proper. It's China's Mongolian territory. I lived there for a while. I lived in Taiwan, which is not a part of China, but—
[00:07:49] Jordan Harbinger: To be clear.
[00:07:50] Laowhy86: That's in between, yeah, in between my China days. But yeah, 10 years, 10 years total in China. I saw the ups and downs, really had absolutely no intention of ever trying to cover journalistic type things. Very brief rundown, I had my own business there. I met Winston, who's not here now, but he was the first YouTuber in China. We came together because we were both on YouTube and there was no one else doing it, right? So there's people asking us, like, "Why are you in China? Is it you're going to die over there? What is it like? Is it super communist?" So we're like, we both kind of came together. We're making these videos, trying to show people that life is not like some alien planet. And it's interesting.
[00:08:29] And you know, our family was worried about us, so we want to show them that we're okay. So we came together, we ended up sharing our love for motorcycles. We ended up starting a motorcycle shop together where we built custom bikes. And because of that, we ended up doing some self-funded documentaries together, where we rode across the entire country and just documented all the good stuff that we saw.
[00:08:50] All the documentaries we had seen would be some massively high-production BBC thing, or a Chinese state media thing. We wanted nothing to do with that stuff. We wanted to go out there and show people rural China. And when I say rural China, I'm not necessarily talking about like some Backwoods areas, just they're not the city centers that everyone's already seen.
[00:09:07] So we did that and we predominantly just showed them the amazing parts of China. But in that time, we watched China's regime go from kind of this golden period where they want it to be a world player. They wanted to be on the world stage. They wanted people to look at them and say, "Hey, China is opening up," and then go from that into extreme paranoia. Almost, I want to say almost overnight, we started to notice it getting really bad around 2015 and then really peaking around 2017 to where, if you're a dude with a camera walking around the streets of China, even if you're showing the good things, you have police minders, you have people following you. You have people reporting on you. You have everyone watching your every move.
[00:09:46] And that really came to a head when we were filming our second documentary and it was called Conquering Northern China. What we were doing was we were filming again, just people in China, their daily lives or normal experiences. And we were meeting some interesting Mongolian tribes. We met some really cool people that herted reindeer, awesome stuff like that. And we were in a town on the Mongolian border with Mongolia proper, and that night we were raided by the SWAT team with automatic weapons, body cameras. There were detectives there.
[00:10:17] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:10:18] Laowhy86: Just so people don't, you know, they have incentive to go listen to our stories.
[00:10:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Well, of course, link to the videos. Like I watched dozens and dozens and dozens of your videos, but we will link to the ones that are—
[00:10:27] Laowhy86: Sure.
[00:10:28] Jordan Harbinger: —relevant and of course, the channels in the show notes.
[00:10:30] Laowhy86: So the concern was is that there was a foreigner in a region that is apparently a highly contested area, made a couple phone calls while all of us were getting separately interrogated. And I called somebody that was pretty high up in the province. And they in fact called their uncle who confirmed that we were in an area that had a lot of separatist violence, a lot of Mongol, ethnic Mongolian people in this town, wanted to be part of Mongolia. It had nothing to do with China. And they were pissed off.
[00:10:54] Their language is being removed from public schools. Their culture was being stamped on. They got harassed by the army all the time, the Chinese army, the PLA, and they thought that we were some sort of journalists, like rogue journalists that were on the road, masquerading like we're filming cultural stuff, but actually we're going to film that story. And they were so worried. It was going to be the foreigners that broke the Tibet stories or the Sejong stories. But long story short, it was this culmination of propaganda. So throughout the entire trip—
[00:11:20] Jordan Harbinger: Which, by the way, let me jump in. If they had never told you that you would never have really paid attention to that. And the story would have still been—
[00:11:27] Laowhy86: No.
[00:11:27] Jordan Harbinger: —under wraps, but instead they were like, "Let's make a huge deal about this and highlight it so that they wonder why this happened and investigate." And now, all these skeletons are popping out of the closet, which is kind of like hilariously ironic, what an epic fail.
[00:11:41] Laowhy86: Yes, we were literally filming horse milk. Okay. They milk horses and they make alcohol out of it. And that would have stayed that way. We just needed a place to crash and it turns out, of course, because they harass us so much. I ended up when I moved back to the US doing 10, 20 hours of research on this calling people, asking questions, figuring out the region and actually breaking that story. That was what their nightmare was. That could have been avoided from day one. And I found this to be the case over and over again. Because later on the trip, the PLA, the People's Liberation Army stopped us, took apart all of our equipment, took our photos — actually snuck a little GoPro footage that we actually found that the other day, which is great.
[00:12:19] Jordan Harbinger: Nice.
[00:12:19] Laowhy86: But long story short, I was harassed by the police over and over and over again, whether it be SWAT team, detectives, PLA. It dawned on me that this was not the China that I moved to. This was not the China that I was in love with, that I was showing people. That actually in turn caused me to look more into what the paranoia was all about. So I would meet people and have more personal conversations about what life is like for them. And if you get to know someone in China, especially in some of these minority regions where it's not only Han Chinese people, the Han people are like 90 percent of the population.
[00:12:49] If you go to these areas, it's not like the propaganda. We all live in harmony. We all live in unity and stuff. The audience probably has heard a lot about, you know, the problems in Xinjiang and the genocide of the Uyghurs, all this stuff comes about because the Chinese government treats the minority people like they're not human, right? They belittle them. They don't give them the same opportunities. You might read on that they get easier entrance exam scores or something like this, like affirmative action stuff. But by a large, they don't integrate them into society properly. And that causes a lot of issues, but it's not just that.
[00:13:23] I know a lot of people might turn off at the idea that, "Oh, okay, the Chinese government doesn't treat their minorities well, but maybe for the 90 percent population, it's good." No, they marginalized, the poor, or even, you know, the emerging middle-class. People don't have rights until they're exorbitantly wealthy and that became an issue. And that's something I want to speak out upon when I moved back to the US but I don't know if you want to get into how I ended up leaving China.
[00:13:47] Jordan Harbinger: I will in a bit, but now that we've sort of given this frankly really good intro, that I wouldn't have been able to do myself. So thanks for that. I'm going to save your — you said leave China. I'm going to say escape China. I'm going to save that story for a little bit. I want to talk about one of the more dystopian elements of Chinese society and every show I do about China, I've always got to say this — it's not about Chinese people. It's about the Chinese regime, the CCP, Chinese Communist Party in particular.
[00:14:12] So if you are Asian and you're offended by this, you don't have to be, unless you work for the Chinese Communist Party, in which case, shame on you, but everybody else is fine. All right.
[00:14:21] Laowhy86: We're all in the same team here.
[00:14:22] Jordan Harbinger: We're all on the same team here. Exactly. Like the best thing for China or for Chinese people I should say is to live in a more free regime than the one you're forced to deal with now.
[00:14:32] Laowhy86: Would I be doing this if I didn't have extreme love?
[00:14:34] Jordan Harbinger: Of course, I'm still going to get a ton of crap for that, but I don't care. At least I can say that I said it and that it's clear. But one of the more dystopian elements of Chinese modern society is the social credit system. And that was sort of the initial, like, "Hey, let's make a show about this—
[00:14:47] Laowhy86: Sure.
[00:14:48] Jordan Harbinger: —kind of idea. So it's not — I originally, before I saw your video, I almost thought it was like the Black Mirror episode where people are rating one another if you've seen that where it's like, "Oh, you know what, she never paid me back for dinner that jerk, you know, two stars," or like, "This person is cussing in the middle of the mall, one star." It's not like that. It's a little bit more, I don't know, formalized if that's the right word.
[00:15:09] Laowhy86: Sure. I think it's really important for people to understand that the social credit system, when you look at it through the lens of something like pop culture, like Black Mirror, it's not realistic and you're not going to pay attention to it. That's when you get the meme. So you get the John Cena memes, right? This whole all became super popular when people were making all these memes about John Cena and how he was shilling for the Chinese government and then his social credit score would go down. And that stuff's hilarious, absolutely funny.
[00:15:35] But in reality, it's not like a glorified Yelp review. It's not, you're not going around and like ratting people out and scanning their face and putting them into some database and making their credit score to go down.
[00:15:45] Jordan Harbinger: Not yet.
[00:15:46] Laowhy86: Because — not yet. When you recommended this topic to me, it put me on a month or two-long escapade of trying to figure out what it was. And I was tired. I was tired of watching videos in my research, put out by, I'm not going to name names, but put out by other journalists and stuff like this that weren't like. But they were very simplified versions that made it sound like this was some widespread entity that every single person has to deal with in China. And that kind of pissed me off because I knew that that wasn't the case. I was talking to people and they were like weed. I don't even know what that is, right?
[00:16:17] Jordan Harbinger: One of the things that I initially thought was, "Hey, it's like a FICO score and we have credit scores here in the United States. What's the big deal." But as we'll see, it's more invasive it's based on a lot of factors that you would never be able to rate someone on here in the United States and the effects that it has go well beyond whether or not you can borrow money to buy a house or a car.
[00:16:37] Laowhy86: Right. I like to say it's worse and not as bad as what you think. It's just different than what you think. So I found out that it had been implemented in a city called Rongcheng. Rongcheng is in Northern China in a province called Shandong. Shandong is famous for having a lot of communist projects we tested out. So when I was there multiple times, what I noticed that there would be what you think, these utopian communist villages with a hammer and sickle stamp. And everything is beautiful and well-manicured and taken care of, wildly different than the rest of the country. And for some reason, this, I like to call Shandong province, the darling child of the CCP. They loved to implement their dreams, their goals on things.
[00:17:16] And it's actually pretty picturesque. I mean, that's where you see the wind turbines. That's where you see a lot of the solar farms. That's where you see a lot of these picture-perfect kind of Chinese villages, where the water is clean, flowing through. And it's just so diametrically opposed to what you see in some of the other places. So what I noticed Rongcheng place is famous, where we went to go film there. It was famous for having these ancient Chinese houses, almost looks like a dwarf village from Lord of the Rings or something where these roofs are made out of seaweed. And they use the seaweed, the dry it out, and they make it into like a thatched roof. And it's very beautiful.
[00:17:49] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:17:49] Laowhy86: But at the same time, it's also not real. It's something that's been set up for propaganda. It used to be like that. But the old remnants of that are gone, right? It's used as kind of like a set piece. We actually found out when we were there that BBC had manufactured a lot of their footage, when they went to go shoot there, we met a guy there who is like the village chief or whatever. And he took us around and he's like, "Hey, do you want me to go pay a bunch of people to put some seafood in the sand and then go pay people to go dig them up for you on camera." And we're like, "Why would we do that? We want to film reality," right? And he's like, "Oh, that's what the BBC did." We were like, "Oh my god."
[00:18:25] Jordan Harbinger: Really? Like, "Oh, this is just a fisherman. Look, he's found a—"
[00:18:29] Laowhy86: It was cockles. They are looking for cockles.
[00:18:31] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:18:32] Laowhy86: These is like the famous cockle village. It was this big thing that they did. And we were like, "No, we'd rather film, like whatever you do in normal daily life." So we didn't. He meant manufacturing the footage.
[00:18:41] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. So the gas station attendants, like you mean to tell me, "You're going to give me 10 bucks to go onto the beach. Pretend I dug this up and then just start eating it."
[00:18:48] Laowhy86: Yeah.
[00:18:48] Jordan Harbinger: "So I'm going to make 10 bucks for this." You know, that's so disappointing because I love watching things like Wild China and Planet Earth. And to hear that, it's just like, "Yeah, we can either stay here for a week and wait for something to happen or pay the guy down the road to make it look like it happened." Oh, that's such a bummer.
[00:19:03] Laowhy86: That was something I learned when we self-funded our documentaries. We didn't know what we're doing. And we had two camera guys that were friends with who were really good at shooting stuff, but we want to go show what we saw in real life. And that was so different than what like a big production team does. It was disappointing, but it was also interesting to see, and it's not even BBC thing aside, that's not even necessarily their fault, a hundred percent. It's the reality of how things work in China.
[00:19:26] So for BBC to film there, they would have had to get Chinese government party approval to shoot there. And so what would have happened is they would have had minders go and set things up for them as well. A lot of what you see from Chinese, like anything media related to China is a big farce, but Rongcheng, the city in general is again, this darling child of the Chinese Communist Party. And they chose that to be the litmus test for how well the social credit system is going to work.
[00:19:52] And I found the actual government official documents from the Chinese government and how they were going to implement it and how they are implementing it in Rongcheng.
[00:20:01] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. How did you get those?
[00:20:03] Laowhy86: Well, honestly, I just started looking up, you know, the social credit system on the Chinese Internet and it wasn't anything that was being hidden. It hadn't become a stigma yet. It wasn't really a thing that China wasn't trying to sweep under the rug yet, because it's something they're proud of, right?
[00:20:16] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So they weren't thinking like, "This is totally creepy and weird as hell that we're doing it."
[00:20:21] Laowhy86: No.
[00:20:21] Jordan Harbinger: "We should hide this." They were like, "Look at this great idea to rate everyone based on jaywalking.
[00:20:25] Laowhy86: In fact, I found it on like a Chinese law blog or something like this, right? And they actually went later there, they went later to say, like, "If you've come here from Laowhy86, his video, that's completely false. This is absolutely not true. This is just like a reference paper or something like this." Because they didn't know it was going to blow up into something like this, right?
[00:20:45] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:20:45] Laowhy86: They didn't know it would get so much press. Again, it was for domestic population reading only. It was supposed to be something people were proud of. So what I did was I went through and I just translated verbatim what was in the document. So you have things like how people lose and gain points.
[00:21:02] And what they came up with was a system where everyone's been allotted a thousand points. Think of a video game, think of like you're building your character on an RPG. You're allotted a thousand skill points. Right? And you can either go above that allotment or you can go below that allotment. And depending on how far, how far you've gone above it or below it you're rated. You got an A-plus-plus, you got B, you got C, you got all this kind of stuff.
[00:21:25] And based on what level you are in society, you're allowed certain privileges or certain privileges are taken away. So in Rongcheng where they worked on this, you would have things like if you're spreading rumors, you get points deducted. If you donate your organs, you get some points added up.
[00:21:44] Jordan Harbinger: Your own organs or someone else's you're related to? That's the thing I don't understand. It's like, "Fine. I'm really in the hole on this social credit thing, take a kidney or worse."
[00:21:53] Laowhy86: Honestly, I couldn't tell you how that works, but anyway, you have a lot of different situations. Basically, a lot of them revolve around, like, did you jaywalk, did you spit, did you talk badly about the party online?
[00:22:04] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:22:04] Laowhy86: A lot of this stuff was related to, did you go on a forum and say something bad about the communist party of China, right?
[00:22:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:22:12] Laowhy86: All of this revolved around creating a model citizen, which wasn't necessarily is this person going to be an altruistic person that helps them across the street more. So is this person going to talk sh*t about the Chinese government and we should punish him if he does. So that's basically how it worked.
[00:22:28] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Laowhy86. We'll be right back.
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[00:25:32] Now, back to Laowhy.
[00:25:36] I wrote the ratings down. And I want to go through these just briefly. There's like AAA or AA, which is above baseline. Like this guy's great. A as a model citizen and what was shocking to me. And again, I guess it makes sense that they didn't know that this was going to be stigmatized and blow up but there's an advantage, getting into schools and in getting jobs, especially government jobs. And this is the official sort of position as I understand it, right? It's not like a speculation. It's written in the dang document. That—
[00:26:02] Laowhy86: That's the document.
[00:26:03] Jordan Harbinger: —is what they're going to do. Yeah.
[00:26:05] Laowhy86: Correct.
[00:26:05] Jordan Harbinger: That to me was shocking because usually you'd be like, "Well, we'll just wink, wink, nudge, nudge. We only let AAA and A apply here." It's like, no, you should do this because you will get a better chance of getting public education if you are doing everything the government wants you to do. So that was kind of insane. B rating, you're on some kind of probation. C, government inspectors are coming over to your house and checking on you. It's a locked status for three years. Right? So like, no matter how great you are, you can go to every pro-government thing and donate all your organs, you're still going to be at a C level for three years no matter what.
[00:26:41] Laowhy86: Yes.
[00:26:41] Jordan Harbinger: And then the lowest one, which is the blacklist. The blacklist, this is amazing to me, it's public. So you're getting shamed, like at an airport on a flat-screen TV or something like that because your face will show.
[00:26:54] Laowhy86: Or a movie theater.
[00:26:54] Jordan Harbinger: Or a movie theater. Okay. Yeah. And it's a lot for five years, the government inspectors are coming over to your house. You can lose your job. And I meant to tell you this man, my Chinese teachers, I asked about this and most of them said they didn't use it because like you said, it's only in a couple of cities, but one of them said they did. And what was really interesting was on WeChat, which is like Facebook plus Instagram plus TikTok plus Snapchat plus your text messaging app and PayPal all in one over in China and Google for that matter, she was chatting with her friend on WeChat. And he had his D status or at least some negative status in WeChat and it said something like this person doesn't pay debts.
[00:27:32] Laowhy86: Correct. Yes.
[00:27:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So like that guy that she was friends with owed someone or some company money, and since he didn't pay, they were like, "Hey, if you're talking to your friend here, just so you know, they owe people money and don't pay. They're a scumbag." And she was like, "What is that?" And he's like, "Yeah, it's some crap that I got to deal with now."
[00:27:50] Laowhy86: You know, it's kind of creepy. It was the amount of people that saw they cherry-picked. Like I'm talking about my Western audience. So they cherry-pick things that they thought were like based or good. So they would say like a lot of people would look at your Chinese teacher's friend who is kind of locked into that D status—
[00:28:06] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:28:07] Laowhy86: Where he's getting publicly shamed for owing money. And they'll be like, "Oh, that's cool. That means that he won't be scamming people in the future. Right?
[00:28:14] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:28:14] Laowhy86: And that's the worrying thing was that if China wants to market this properly, what I foresee happening is they're going to run a campaign, a propaganda campaign with a bunch of Western talking about how the social credit system is not as a nefarious as they think they'll cherry-pick things like, "Oh, see, they get rewarded for donating to charity," right? But they won't focus on things like, "Oh, but they get punished for talking to their friend at a coffee shop about how Xi Jinping shouldn't have too much power.
[00:28:40] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:28:41] Laowhy86: It's kind of a slippery slope, right?
[00:28:43] Jordan Harbinger: Absolutely.
[00:28:43] Laowhy86: When I was going through these documents, I was astounded how well thought out it was and how kind of concrete these things were. But what I did find out was that this was only implemented in Rongcheng to that degree. And actually the social credit system is not some cohesive unilateral thing from the central government, although it ultimately stems from the central government. It's being experimented with in different cities with different problems.
[00:29:08] So they'll take a problem that a certain city has or a perceived problem that the Chinese government thinks that a certain city has. Let's say it's gambling, let's say it's protesting, something that the government doesn't like, and they will draft their own document for that city, for their own schematics, what gives and takes away points. However, there are baseline things like anytime that you're talking badly about the government is definitely going to be a thing that's everywhere, right?
[00:29:34] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:29:35] Laowhy86: One thing I found very interesting was it's also a way to secretly stop people from kind of posting or talking about their transgressions with the Chinese government while telling the public that they are allowing people to do that. And that's because, technically in the Chinese constitution, you can go petition to Beijing. So Beijing is the capital of China. Let's say I have a factory that opened up next to my house. Very common occurrence, the groundwater gets poison and all the kids get cancer. It happens all the time, actually.
[00:30:06] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh, god.
[00:30:07] Laowhy86: You can't do anything. You go to your local official, they threaten to kill you. They threatened to punish you. Just some really horrific things that happen in the Chinese countryside. So what do you? You get helpless. You go to the provincial government, they kick you down the road. They're like, "Yeah, whatever. We'll look into it." Then your last step is you legally have the right to go to the hall of the people in Beijing and walk up and post your petition and say, "Listen, this is going on in my city. Please deal with it."
[00:30:33] So what the social credit system has done at least in Rongcheng here is if you go and take your transgressions to the central government, your social credit score goes down. So if you are actually legitimately following the Chinese law to go tell Xi Jinping's government that, "I don't like what's happened in my village," then you actually get deducted and you become less of a model citizen to do. I found that insane.
[00:30:56] Jordan Harbinger: That's crazy backwards, because the most civically minded people who are like, "Hey, there's kids getting poisoned in the countryside. Nobody knows about it. I've got evidence. The local authorities are covering it up. They're corrupt." You take that person and you go — Fine, but now you can't send your kids to school, get an education. And you're going to lose out on getting a passport or being able to travel. But thanks for your report. You're forcing those people into silence, but that's got to be by design. It's almost like out of sight, out of mind. Like, "Look, they never reported it to us. The local authorities, whatever, it's their job to handle it." And it sort of cuts down on probably paperwork. And also they have plausible deniability that they never knew about it if they force people to report to the corrupt local officials.
[00:31:38] Laowhy86: It's actually a great concrete example. Recently, you guys might've seen. The chained woman, this woman, basically in Eastern China, she was chained up. And this guy that had her chained up, he was famous in his village in Eastern China for having eight children and being such a hero and raising them all himself. And what actually was happening was he had this woman chained up and she was birthing all these children and making him famous. Right? So some people that were watching his live streams went over to go check it out, you know, to visit him and say, "What's up? How's it going? You're my hero," or whatever. And they found this chained up woman in the back that had been being abused, sexually abused.
[00:32:17] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my god.
[00:32:18] Laowhy86: She had been human trafficked, right? The Chinese government's response — again, people were upset about this, obviously. People in China are humans just like anyone else. They get mad when something like this happens. They think it's an injustice, but they have no recourse unlike someone in America, right?
[00:32:34] Jordan Harbinger: Mmhm.
[00:32:34] Laowhy86: So what happened was the initial government response was to hide everything. They said, "Anybody that goes in and out of the village, get their license plate. Anybody that has been spotted talking to people in this village, arrests them, interrogate them. Make sure you find out who leaked out this information, that this woman was chained up." Not go save the woman.
[00:32:53] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:32:53] Laowhy86: Not go figure out how this human trafficking thing happened. That happened way later. And they lied about what happened as well. But anyway, that's how China works. When you have a top-down authoritarian system, at least the way the China operates is that nobody wants to be held accountable for anyone's actions. When the top says, "Go do this," no one can report back and say, "Hey, it didn't work out." They lose their job, potentially their life when something like that happens. And that's kind of how the government's structured. Within the social credit system is that, "We don't want to hear about it. We don't want to hear about your problems." And they want to scare people into being in servitude to their local governments instead of the central government getting their transgressions or what they're upset with.
[00:33:32] Jordan Harbinger: Man, that is horrific, of course. And your channel has a lot of examples like this and everything's sourced nicely. I do want to just briefly cover how you can get your rating to go up and down because it does seem like, "Well, wait a minute. This is a really good idea." Like on its face, before you look deeper and go, "Oh, it causes corruption and it causes people not to report on things that among other injustices."
[00:33:54] Like, look, if you return lost money, you get points. If you report on a dangerous religious cult, you get points. Well, wait a minute. What does that mean? That's one of those, like, almost anything could be defined as that if somebody has a hard-on for any local church or church leader or religious leader or non-religious leader, spiritual anything. Resolving a dispute between neighbors, cool, all right, good neighbors. Helping cops get criminals, all right, now we're getting dodgy again, right? Because it's like, are we wanting people to narc on everybody just to get their points up? Because they're a little bit low. Donating organs, hopefully, your own or somebody that is dead, that is closely related to you. I don't know. We'll put a little asterisk next to that one. If your kid does well in sports or joins the army or win some sort of award, you get points. And if you win something like a medal in the Olympics or a national award, you get points as well. Are those the big ones?
[00:34:45] Laowhy86: Yeah, absolutely. And actually, I'm glad you brought this up, Jordan, is the joining the army thing. Joining the army in China is something that people have always looked down on. I mean, I don't want to use like crass language or anything, but people kind of think you're a scumbag if you join the army.
[00:34:58] Jordan Harbinger: Really? Huh?
[00:34:59] Laowhy86: Unless you're like a super high up general. By the way, if you are a general in the Chinese army, you are probably one of the most powerful people in the country, more so than a lot of government. But if you're some, you're just like 18, 20 years old, you want to join the army, they don't pay for anything. You have to pay for everything yourself basically. You have to go and do odd jobs, haul lumber.
[00:35:18] Jordan Harbinger: What?
[00:35:19] Laowhy86: Yeah.
[00:35:19] Jordan Harbinger: Really?
[00:35:20] Laowhy86: Do things like that. Yeah, it's a very low position and it's either the home of children that are getting in trouble in school, or really poor people that just don't have any options to go to university or something like that. So to reward people for doing that in this time where I'm now seeing a lot of propaganda coming out of the central government that are trying to glorify soldiers and the army and being in defense of their nation in a time where they've portrayed to their entire domestic populace that the west wants everyone dead in China, right?
[00:35:49] The US and American people and the American government wants to kill China. So they've kind of stirred up a lot of nationalism, a lot of patriotism, and they're trying every avenue possible to get rid of that stigma that somebody joining the army is actually a low thing. And there's so much pro-army propaganda out in China right now, the movies, the TV shows. Everything running online discussion, they're really trying to push that narrative in that direction. It's a little worrying. It's really tying into that paranoia and nationalism that I saw right before I left.
[00:36:19] Jordan Harbinger: Man, that's disconcerting, right? Because whenever you see a major world power start throwing propaganda, like America does this where it's, when they go on recruiting drives, it's like, "Well, crap, what are we gearing up for now?" And when you see that from a world power, that's opposite to your own, you see that in a Russia and it's like, just not a good look, man.
[00:36:37] Laowhy86: Yeah.
[00:36:38] Jordan Harbinger: It's sort of a up for prelude to conflict. Things you can do that will bring your rating down — this is a little more interesting, right? Negative info on WeChat about the government. So if you're texting your friend and they see it because they see everything, right? They're hoovering up that data. If you're talking about the government, that's no good. Overdrafting your bank card, tax evasion, speeding, parking tickets, noise or disruption. Underground meetings is a shady one because, what's that? Like talking about or doing anything that you don't want other people to know about. Well, that's a little invasive.
[00:37:09] Laowhy86: That's usually a religious. Yeah.
[00:37:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's what it sounds like. And then, of course, remember, you get points for narcing on those. So there's that.
[00:37:16] Laowhy86: Correct.
[00:37:16] Jordan Harbinger: Breaking the two-child policy, reporting a grievance outside your local jurisdiction, which we just talked about. I love this one. Not properly sorting your recycling. That's a fun one.
[00:37:27] Laowhy86: You know what the great thing about that is.
[00:37:29] Jordan Harbinger: What? It all ends up in the same place anyways.
[00:37:31] Laowhy86: Yes. I mean—
[00:37:33] Jordan Harbinger: Really?
[00:37:33] Laowhy86: I have video evidence of this. There are bins in China where it says recycling and garbage, and it's the same bag. If you go onto the other side of it, they'll say garbage and recycling. They didn't even paint it on properly. So people are just chucking it all in the same place.
[00:37:47] Jordan Harbinger: It's so sad, but it's also — the reason I'm laughing is because I've always had this like dumb two-cent conspiracy theory that a lot of the crap we recycle is already sorted by a machine and they don't really need us to do it, but it's just a bunch of sets or we sort all those numbers and they just throw 80 to 90 percent of it away, which turns out is actually true.
[00:38:07] Laowhy86: Sure.
[00:38:07] Jordan Harbinger: Because you know how the little triangles is like one, two, three, four, five, they can only do something with like one and four. The other ones, you could recycle it if you were willing to spend like an unlimited amount of energy doing it. And they just don't, they just landfill it, but it says it's recyclable. It's such a sham.
[00:38:22] Laowhy86: Right.
[00:38:22] Jordan Harbinger: I'm going to do a show about that.
[00:38:23] Laowhy86: So it's a sham everywhere then.
[00:38:25] Jordan Harbinger: It's a sham everywhere, but it's worse if it just goes into the same dang bag. What's the point? They just want you to — they want to know that you'll do what they tell you to do. Throw that in the recycling bin because it's recyclable. Okay, cool. And then after that they're like, "Whatever, it's still going in the landfill."
[00:38:37] Laowhy86: It's just really important that people use the garbage and recycling thing as an analogy for how the structure of the Chinese government works. And that is as long as the leadership got their face, as you say in Chinese, they got their face. It means they got their reputation. They bolstered their reputation from whatever they put out there, whatever. Like oftentimes, you'll see cities in China awarded as the Green City of China. And it turns out there's like 500 green cities of China. And it could be in a polluted dystopian wasteland with coal factories everywhere. But that leader of that city bribe the right person to get that award. And then they got their face, they got their procedure and they got their rank higher and the government.
[00:39:13] And that's a lot of how China operates. And that's a lot of what I cover is the absolute hypocrisy of that. Because if you look at Chinese propaganda, it's that everywhere else in the world is failing while China is succeeding. And what they're doing is just projecting exactly the same weird dystopian lie, you know, propaganda that they practice in their own country.
[00:39:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's interesting because, again, people will go, "Well, what about the United States?" which one is whataboutism but two, the point is you can't go and say, "Everything is great here and never admit to your mistakes." I think one of the great things is people will say, "Well, what about the United States? What about the United States?" I hear that all the time. And I'm thinking nobody complains about America more than Americans, literally, no one. Find me a group of anyone anywhere in the world, maybe aside from North Korea, who just can't stop talking about the Korean war. Find a group that hates her elements of America more than people who live here but still love the country. Like just find one and you can't do it, but in China, you're not allowed to do it. And that is the point that I think, one of the points that I think we're making here is you're not allowed to do anything about this if you live there.
[00:40:18] Laowhy86: Correct. That's exactly well said.
[00:40:20] Jordan Harbinger: And last thing here that can bring your rating down, not showing up for an online dinner reservation. And they almost had me with that one, man. They almost had me with that one because—
[00:40:29] Laowhy86: Would you be screwed to that?
[00:40:30] Jordan Harbinger: That's one of those where I'm like, "You know, what if you put your name in the Yelp waiting list and you just don't show up?" but then I thought, "You know, they just go onto the next party, so it's not that big of a deal."
[00:40:38] Laowhy86: Yeah.
[00:40:39] Jordan Harbinger: But on a personal level, when people don't show up for things, I'm like, "I want to downgrade your rating as a friend." I'm doing it in my head. I just don't have a formal way to put it into practice.
[00:40:49] Laowhy86: When you're finished with your Chinese lessons and you achieve fluency, you can go apply to the CCP and they might give you the position that punishes people that don't show up for reservations.
[00:40:57] Jordan Harbinger: That's right. I'll be like, "Oh, you said you were going to be here to pick up your bubble tea, but you're not even here. Now, I got to throw this thing away. Negative five."
[00:41:07] Laowhy86: Yes.
[00:41:07] Jordan Harbinger: What factors go into this? Of course, they take your credit, right? If you overdraft your bank account, that's just pure credit/banking stuff. They must be looking at your arrest record, right? What about your grades and stuff?
[00:41:18] Laowhy86: Oh, for sure. I mean, it depends on where you are again and how they're going to implement this in the end. But I think it's important to point out — I talked to a bunch of people around from different places fairly recently to find out what they were doing in certain areas. And education turns out to be a huge unifying factor in a lot of this, not only are they looking at people that they don't want their children to be in certain schools, because those people are considered unsavory by the government. They want to punish either government officials or citizens that have attributes of their family kind of psyche that are against authoritarianism or against the CCP in some way, but also just looking at people that are not performing like they should.
[00:41:57] I mean, this utopian dream that Xi Jinping has created where he calls it moderate prosperity. Moderate prosperity means everyone should be — it's kind of a piss take of the American dream, but like worse. It's like everyone should be at good enough level and everyone should be there. Meet each other in the middle, basically. No one should be super high and no one should be super alone. Well, that's kind of noble. In its efforts, they do punish people for not performing to a certain level.
[00:42:22] So there was a thing during China's golden period — I always call that — maybe early to mid-2000s where the kids that were previously like working their asses off and studying like crazy and going through the really torturous education system in China because there's more money. There's more influx. People can go out to McDonald's. A lot of people go to McDonald's or something like this. There was less incentive to be like our family's going to starve if our child doesn't do well. So more kids were screwing around. You know, you saw kids going to get tattoos and smoking cigarettes now. Stuff that you would never think of 10, 20 years ago and skipping school and going to hang out at the arcade, right?
[00:42:56] All this kind of stuff that you would never picture China doing was stuff that was starting to happen. The social credit system really plays into trying to get kids to stop doing that kind of stuff too. Huge punishments, huge deductions for kids that are not performing as well as they should in school. And also getting them knocked out of whatever school they're in and put it put into some other sub-provincial school.
[00:43:16] Jordan Harbinger: Man, that's wild to look at your grades, arrests credit. You mentioned there's 200 million surveillance cameras. So they're taking — are they taking data from those somehow? I mean, I've seen the jaywalk cameras. Maybe you should tell us about those. They're at least using that.
[00:43:29] Laowhy86: Yeah. So facial recognition technology has become pretty ubiquitous around any major city around in China. So for example — and honestly, a lot of people are proud of it to go to a vending machine scans your face, right? Which is attached to your WeChat ID, which again, like you said, it's kind of like Facebook mix with everything you've ever heard of, tied to your bank. And it's deducting money from there just by looking at your face after you click the Coke button or whatever. I've seen a lot of funny memes actually, where there's a chick or a girl or whatever, a dude trying to push the soda button. And then he, immediately before it scans his face, ducks down, the next person in line gets scanned. So they get charged for it.
[00:44:07] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, so that's like a funny meme.
[00:44:10] Laowhy86: It's like, "Hardy har, we're under massive surveillance."
[00:44:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:44:16] Laowhy86: It also works with buses, right? Instead of your bus ticket or whatever, instead of scanning your phone QR code attached to your bank account as facial-recognition technology. I heard a lot of this is pretty janky to be honest, but it is being used. The surveillance cameras are all over China. They're scanning your license plate. Some of them are scanning your face, trying to identify your attributes, to connect you to your social credit score, to your status in society, to what you've done online, posted online, that kind of stuff. And they use that for, well, their excuse is to catch criminals.
[00:44:48] What it's actually being used for is people identifying people that are having illegal meetings or talking again badly about the government. I can't harp on enough about how much of this boils down to trying to catch people that are talking badly about the government. It's really the be all and end all of all this stuff. You can use jaywalking, or you can talk about like letting your dog sh*t in the park or something until you're blue in the face. Like, is that being a source of you losing points? But really what they're trying to do is finding dissidents in stopping and preventing future crimes, so to speak, which is dissent against the Chinese government.
[00:45:22] So with the jaywalking cameras again, it's one of those things that, "Oh, look, we can stop these like bad rude people by taking their image when they jaywalk, before the cross light comes on." And then immediately on a screen next to it, they'll show their face. In some cases I've seen, it showed their ID number, their government ID number, and then say, "This person has been fined or deducted points because they jaywalked." And it's really dystopian and horrifying to see because, you know, at least someone that with experience with China knows actually what that's being implemented, what uses that is being implemented for, not just jaywalking.
[00:46:01] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Laowhy86. We'll be right back.
[00:46:06] This episode is sponsored in part by Every Man Jack. We pay attention to what we put in our bodies, but we also got to pay attention to what we put on our bodies. And did you know that skin is the largest organ of your body? It's the only thing I remember from seventh grade science. Since it's porous, it absorbs what you put on it. And Every Man Jack's men's care products use the best clean ingredients nature has to offer. So your skin will thank you. From body wash, deodorant, skincare products, shampoo, bomb oils, they contain and nourish your hair and beard with incredible sense inspired by the great outdoors like sandalwood, cedar wood and sea salt. My favorite is the very fancy exfoliating citrus body wash scrub, which has the perfect amount of exfoliation. It makes me smell like delicious tangerines. There are no harsh chemicals that can be abrasive and dry out your skin. They use as many clean naturally derived ingredients as possible, and they use responsibly made packaging. It doesn't get any better than that.
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[00:48:27] Now for the rest of part one with Laowhy86.
[00:48:32] Look, the idea that it encourages people not to scam or spit on the ground or pee on a wall. That sounds great. And it sounds like a handy tool to punish criminals and in a tool that's only slightly more invasive than a credit score. But the problem is like you said, minority report, right? You're being treated badly as a result of your past, even in the future. It's almost like felons here in the United States. They're mistreated in a lot of ways, but this is computerized and institutionalized. Like you're not supposed to be able to tell a felon that they can't do a whole bunch of stuff, like book a flight — here's some real consequences from the social credit score. You're deprioritized for school and jobs, which is already hard enough. Like if you have a criminal record to get a job, even if it has nothing to do, your crime had nothing to do — if you sold weed in college, now you're having a hard time getting a job when you're 30 because that's still on your record, right? It's ridiculous.
[00:49:24] Laowhy86: That's right.
[00:49:24] Jordan Harbinger: You can't book rail tickets, you can't book flights. That doesn't make any sense to me. Like that's purely a punishment. That's just kind of goes in the general category. Like you're not bad enough to put in prison, we're just going to make your life a huge pain in the neck. What's going on there? And I know they've denied a lot. This isn't like some people. It's like millions of people can't book flights in and train tickets.
[00:49:46] Laowhy86: I'm glad you said denied because not only have they denied millions of people this privilege, but they've also denied denying those people with this privilege. They will go out and people make excuses for this and say, "Hey, there's a reason for this. They were a flight risk. They were some sort of participant in terrorist activities or something. So you wouldn't let them on public transport." But really when you look at it, it's a lot of people that are just dissidents. And I don't even mean dissidence, like, let take down the CCP—
[00:50:11] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:50:11] Laowhy86: —standing in front of Beijing with a placard. You can't do that. "We'll ship you away and you'll never be seen again if you do that." I'm talking about people that in a WeChat group told, "Hey, be careful. There's cops pulling people over on so-and-so street." Right? Because people have been arrested in deducted for those activities. And what happens is they want to make sure that people that are unsavory to them or speaking out against the government or doing whatever they behavior they want to punish aren't moving around. They don't want them to have a safe refuge somewhere else. They want to be able to track them in their area of hukou. Hukou is what the government designates you, where you have to live, where you have to work.
[00:50:49] China's has this very archaic system. You can't just pack a bag tomorrow if I live in Shenzhen and go move to Ürümqi. You have to apply. You have to change your Hukou. That's your household registration, where you're allowed to live and work like Is said. And you have to go through this whole rigamarole, this whole process of doing so. So they want to make sure that you, as a criminal or someone that they consider unsavory stays in that place. So that the local PSB or a Public Security Bureau can make sure that you are behaving, right? It's just much easier. It prevents a lot of headaches, right?
[00:51:18] The biggest punishment that I've seen, that they really want to prevent people from doing is let's say you are somebody that has a lot of money. You have party connections, but they really want to make sure that you are not going to be a risk for capital flight to move all your money to America, because a whole lot, a lot of Chinese government officials, no matter how patriotic you think they are, will move abroad and all of their money and family abroad. So, what they want is to make sure they can even like potentially frame people with some sort of economic crime or something, and then prevent them from getting a passport, renewing their passport, or getting applying for visas abroad. So really preventing people from leaving. And again, it's a security reason.
[00:52:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It all sort of comes back to national security. The other sort of really gross influences here, or consequences here, I should say, is one, if you have a high score, you have a lower wait time in a hospital, which sounds good. Like, all right, good, you're rewarding — but with health, it's a little bit massively unethical, right? Like, okay, fine. If you were able to skip the car rental line because you had really good credit and they could count on you paying, that's one thing. But if you have to wait longer to get healthcare, when you are injured, sick or worse, because you are not a, quote-unquote, model citizen. The inverse then is also true, which is that if you are, let's say, a blacklisted citizen, they almost don't care about your health. And I say almost because I'm being generous here, but it's almost how it's writ. They just don't care.
[00:52:49] Laowhy86: Can I just be franked?
[00:52:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:52:51] Laowhy86: You know, someone lived inside it for 10 years, I can tell you this. If you think the healthcare system in America is dystopian, and this is no way, in no way, shape or form trying to make excuses for the American healthcare system, the quality of care is great, but it bankrupts people. It puts people in really bad positions in their lives, especially if they don't have insurance. But let me tell you that China's on a whole different level. You have to pay before you get treated, right? So, you know, people make a joke and be like, "Well, yeah, they'll treat you no matter what in America, but at least, you know, you won't be bankrupted in another country if they treat you." Okay, whatever, but in a life-or-death situation in China, you pay first, right?
[00:53:25] And when you talk about having priority for healthcare based on your social credit score, that's already how China works, China has been working like that since the inception of the Chinese government. If I go in with some influential people that I know in China prior to me leaving and I wanted priority treatment, I just have to send somebody very influential or someone in the government or someone that's rich to go talk to somebody and I'm ahead of every single other person on line. That's already how it works, right?
[00:53:50] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:53:50] Laowhy86: So now it's just legitimized that if you're a nationalist, like a party-loving citizen or whatever, that you'll have that priority guaranteed in law.
[00:53:59] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:53:59] Laowhy86: It's already how it works though.
[00:54:00] Jordan Harbinger: And there's a lot that can dissuade people from being a dissident in this case, but not having access to good healthcare is also really scary. Like imagine you're thinking about saying something negative about the government on WeChat and you know that your grandmother or your child can't get good healthcare if you do it, you're never going to do it. You're never going to say anything that could be misconstrued as not patriotic. So they're punishing your kids, right? Your kids can't get access to schools and education for the political and other crimes — and I put crimes in air quotes here — of the parents. And that's what's really kind of horrific about this as well.
[00:54:37] Laowhy86: I just, I want people to understand that when I was in China, you could find people willing to have a conversation with you about the downfalls of authoritarianism, the bad principles of the Chinese government and how it's actually made a lot of people's lives worse. You could find people to talk to you about that. What this social credit system has done, and actually just the leadership of the current leadership of China has done is create a complete ecosystem, a self-sustaining ecosystem of paranoia and self-censorship. And it's really just changed drastically because like you said, you're going to always have that in the back of your head, even if they don't, you know, there's a low chance of getting caught or whatever, there's always a potential to everything you say or do is tied back to you and will affect you or your child's life.
[00:55:19] Jordan Harbinger: Super, super scary. Like I could never — this must've worried the crap out of you. Well, this wasn't around, but this type of thing must have scared you. I mean, you were raising a child and got married in China. So you were faced with this kind of thing. That must have crossed your mind at some point. When you were there, were you thinking, "Okay, when we get older, we have to move to the US because there's too much crap to deal with over here"?
[00:55:41] Laowhy86: Yeah. When I left in 2018 and like I said, I saw the writing on the wall, maybe around 2015, where I was like, I can still make excuses that China might kind of flip into the good direction again. And it just wasn't happening. It was getting to the point where everything I was doing, trying to promote the positive side of China, I was just getting police interrogations. I was getting in trouble all the time with no real excuses to why. Right? I was just thinking if I have to raise my child or, you know, have my wife live in a situation like this, where they're constantly being under a microscope of the Chinese government, because I make a living by shooting video, that's just not a conducive environment.
[00:56:24] And again, I bought a house, I just bought a house.
[00:56:27] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:56:27] Laowhy86: I paid in full for an apartment in China. I was ready to settle down. Everything was there. Like you said, I was married. I had a kid, I didn't foresee any of this. I wouldn't have done any of that stuff. I wouldn't put down roots if I thought this was going to happen but it did. I mean, it was really unfortunate because I think China did a massive disservice to a lot of the people like us, like myself and Winston, SerpentZA, we were diplomats for China.
[00:56:51] Jordan Harbinger: Or ambassadors.
[00:56:52] Laowhy86: Yeah. Ambassadors.
[00:56:53] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:56:54] Laowhy86: Not official diplomats. I would say we're ambassadors for China in a way that we wanted people to not celebrate the Chinese government or something like this, but to show the human side of it because we did it. You know, for a lot of time, we think that Western coverage of China was unfair. And so it got to a point where there was the Western coverage was not only fair in some aspect because of what had happened under Xi Jinping. But it got to a point where so many things were not talked about. So a lot of things that we came face to face with that had to be talked about.
[00:57:25] And like I said previously, after I moved back, when Chinese people started reaching out and thanking me profusely for what I was doing, it was really, it showed you the symptom of what had happened in China. That kind of political discourse you could have before, the basic freedoms that were overlooked in this gray area of China in the early to mid-2000s were gone. And people miss that people were very upset at that. And they were so happy. There were some people that could speak, read, or write Chinese and could go somewhere else and safely talk about what was happening to the Chinese people.
[00:57:55] Jordan Harbinger: So this system hasn't rolled out through most of China yet, the social credit system, right? It's sort of like a beta testing thing.
[00:58:01] Laowhy86: Correct.
[00:58:02] Jordan Harbinger: I just wanted to put a button on that, but you're right. You guys showed the good side of China for 10-plus years. I mean, that was one of the main reasons that I went through. And also, you know, I like China a lot. I really do. And I've watched a ton of your travel videos. And then one day it was like, "I left China," and we're going to talk about that in a second here. Because you weren't just like, "Eh, you know what feeling like I need to get back in the snow of northern upstate New York," right?
[00:58:29] Laowhy86: Right.
[00:58:29] Jordan Harbinger: This is more like this sort of happened to you. How did this begin? How did your quick transition out begin?
[00:58:36] Laowhy86: So, yeah, to make it pretty quick, like I said, previously, we were filming our documentary Conquering Northern China, and we were up in a contentious area of inner Mongolia. When we got followed throughout that and interrogated over and over and over again, I knew that something was up because when we were interrogated by the detectives, 2000, 3000 miles away from where I live, they were talking about me and Winston, my friend, SerpentZA, in the hallway about, "Hey, these guys work here. They previously had a contract that they left halfway through on. This is their wife. This is where they shot." They were literally going through details about us.
[00:59:17] Jordan Harbinger: It sounds like you share one wife, which you don't, I just want to clarify that.
[00:59:19] Laowhy86: Yes. I'm sorry — anyway, very explicit details about us, and they knew everything about us, right? It turns out that anybody, you know, doing what we're doing, not journalism, but just filming. They have massive files on them, right? They knew what supermarket I go to. They knew what restaurants I go to. They know who I talk with. They know my preferences, they know everything I've done in terms of employment. They know what businesses I have, all this stuff. And this is really far away from where I am. So it's kind of like, you can picture like you're in Florida, you get pulled over for, I don't know, speeding or something. And they start talking about like that one time that you went to a Barnes & Noble bathroom three years ago in California, right?
[01:00:04] Jordan Harbinger: It was a memorable experience — but, yeah, I can see them being like, "Why are you always buying so much caffeine-free Diet Coke at Target?" And I'm like, "Excuse me, pardon me."
[01:00:15] Laowhy86: Exactly. It kicked out. Right?
[01:00:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:00:16] Laowhy86: So this is how the story transpired is as soon as I got back from that trip, I was a hundred percent sure that there was something going on internally in China, where they really didn't want foreigners going around without state-sanctioned mind or selling them what to film and who not to talk to. And because we did everything ourselves, so we kind of operated in this gray zone of we're not supposed to be interviewing people, we're not supposed to be traveling around and stuff, but we're going to do it anyway as long as we don't step on any toes. It turns out that that was the case because I got a message from a friend of mine who had told me that there were police who were actually looking for me in this bar of a city that I lived in.
[01:00:56] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, that's scary.
[01:00:58] Laowhy86: They were looking around with my printed out photo.
[01:01:01] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[01:01:01] Laowhy86: You might think, hey, this is a surveillance state. Why are they walking around looking for you? Of course, they know where you live, right? And they do, but I'd like to highlight the absolute disconnect with a local police versus a national effort. You in China, when you're a foreigner, you have to register to your employer. And my last employer was at a school that I worked at a university that I worked at. Technically, legally, I had to live on their campus, right? So I was registered to their campus as that was my place of residence, right? But the apartment that I bought in my wife's name, by the way, and most of the paperwork is in my wife's name. I'm not registered there. So if the puny little local police or whatever are looking around for me there, their record is that I'm going to be at the university, which I found out they had checked. They wanted to see where I was.
[01:01:46] To really fast forward through things, it turns out that a fan of ours and I say ours because of all the people that I have on our channel stopped a friend of mine in the streets and showed him a message. And I suspect that this person was actually in the Chinese government, but was either sympathetic to our cause or was hired to do this, but showed him a message that showed that there were people in multiple departments of the police or government looking for me. And the weird thing was, is I initially suspected it's got to be the traffic department. You know, I owned a custom motorcycle shop. Motorcycles are banned a lot of cities in China. They think it makes the city look poor. It's this whole face thing. It's weird. But I rode motorcycles in China, right? So I was like, "Okay, it's the traffic department. They're going to slap me with a fine or something. Stop riding bikes in our city, putting on YouTube," but it was actually three departments. It was the public security bureau. So the department that's in charge of all the foreigners, making sure they're doing what they should or not doing what they shouldn't. And it was also the People's Liberation Army.
[01:02:43] Jordan Harbinger: The army was looking for you. That's scary.
[01:02:46] Laowhy86: The army wasn't necessarily looking for me when those cops went to that bar to go looking—
[01:02:50] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:02:50] Laowhy86: —for me. That was the start of something very, very sinister and crazy. But what happened was on these messages, by the way, which I got later on from an anonymous person that added me on WeChat. They said, "As long as you keep me a secret," and obviously he used some sort of alias or whatever, and added me, "I'm going to show you something." So I look at these messages and they are screenshots from the People's Liberation Army, some of the People's Liberation Army, the traffic department, like I suspected, and the PSB, the Public Security Bureau. And they were looking for me because the PLA said that I had illegally filmed an army base in the city that I lived in.
[01:03:27] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man.
[01:03:27] Laowhy86: Now, the ridiculous thing about this is that I had already been interrogated by police about flying a drone in the city. So this has been an up in the air for ages. They've already questioned me about this a billion times. But when the PLA is reaching out about it and conspiring with other departments, it turns out this is going to be something way bigger than I initially thought. The ridiculous thing is that the footage that I took was a huge birds eye view of the city I was living in. And that exact same footage was all over the Chinese Internet. If you went on any Chinese — because YouTube is banned in China. If you went on a Chinese video website, you could find the exact same shot, shot by a Chinese guy to the public world to see, right? Yes, there's a government basis like a speck in there, right? Just because that's in the middle of the city. That's what it looks like. There was nothing technically illegal that I had done. It wasn't some secret footage that I was unleashing to the world. It was just some random shot of the city that you could find a hundred times over on the Chinese Internet.
[01:04:23] That's when it got nerve wracking, right? All this kind of stuff transpired and I immediately found my wife and she said, "You need to get out immediately. You need to leave the Chinese mainland border right now while we sort this out." My wife's fairly connected in the area that she lived in. I've always felt pretty safe there because of that. We have family members and the government stuff. They hadn't got wind of a lot of this until later. So I was like, "Are you sure?" Packed a little go bag. The reason she couldn't come with me or my wife or my kid couldn't come with me as amidst all of this stuff, all of this writing on the wall that China's getting super paranoid and crazy. I applied for her green card and she was weeks, a couple of weeks away from getting it. So her passport was at the American embassy. My kid's documents were at the American embassy. They couldn't leave China.
[01:05:09] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man.
[01:05:09] Laowhy86: And so I told them get over to another person's house, right? While I get out of here, attempt to get out of here before this all blows up. So I have Winston, I told you about the guy SerpentZA, the guy that I work with, he takes me in his car and he lays me down in the passenger seat and we just drive straight to the Hong Kong border. Now, remember, this is before Hong Kong's national security law, its own jurisdiction, its own legal system, its own law. There's still dissidence there. There's still a lot of freedom there. So I get in line, I'm freaking out. I'm like, oh my god, like I'm not even with my family. I have to get out of here and try to sort something out while I'm in Hong Kong, but I don't even know if I'm going to make it through.
[01:05:50] Jordan Harbinger: I've got some thoughts on this one. But before I get into that, here's a sample of my interview with scam buster, Coffeezilla. Whether you or a loved one is being tempted by sketchy investment opportunities, MLM traps, fake guru-led operations, understanding how to identify them, and the mechanisms by which they work is the best chance you can have of putting a stop to their shenanigans. Here's a quick look inside.
[01:06:13] Coffeezilla: You see an ad and it's some guru you've seen before, you haven't seen before. Let's say, Jordan, you're the guru for today. And you tell me, "Oh, come to my free webinar. It's always free." And it's always going to teach me how to get rich. There's no investment that I initially think I have to make.
[01:06:28] So I go to your webpage. I give you my email and I sign up for this live webinar. It's never live. They've pre-reported it. It's a three-hour sales pitch for their $2,000 course. And they basically tell you, "Look at all these people who have had success." They will show you the Forbes article that they bought, but they'll not tell you that they purchased it. They'll say, "Hey, look, how successful I am." They put themselves in your shoes. They know that their average buyer is broke, you know, disaffected. Everything he's been trying hasn't worked. And they say, "I was just like you. I was where you are and I bounced around and I made all these mistakes until I found the one secret. And I will tell you that secret to get you from A to Z. It took me five years to get to a million dollars. I'll teach you, Jordan, how to do it, a proven blueprint, in one year. I'll take you from loser where I used to be. I used to be a loser like you, and I'll take you to winner where I am now. And I'll take you there. Blueprint, guaranteed. No problem. Look at all the testimonials, sign up, baby, right, right, right, right now." And then they go, "Hey, my course, normally, I'd sell it for $40,000. Normally, it's a hundred thousand dollars worth of value, but just this second for the next 50 minutes, I will give this to you for $2,000." And they're coaching you through the little credit card application.
[01:07:41] Jordan Harbinger: You're on the phone with the credit card company. And they're coaching to do this.
[01:07:43] Coffeezilla: You're like sitting there and they're like, "Hey, this is what you're going to say. Go ahead, call them right now. And let's swipe that card, baby. Let's swipe that card before you leave the seminar." They're left with a $40,000-collection debt, you know, for a high interest rate that can't pay back. They're not making the money they were promised. And then there's a money-back guarantee — there's not a money-back guarantee.
[01:08:02] Jordan Harbinger: To hear more about how to expose predatory shysters for what they are by delving into their shady manipulation tactics, check out episode 368 of The Jordan Harbinger Show with Coffeezilla.
[01:08:15] All right. Part two of this episode coming up here in a few days. Links to all things Laowhy will be in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Please use our website links if you buy anything from a guest like a book, that always helps support the show. Transcripts in the show notes. Videos, of course, up on YouTube. Advertisers' deals and discount codes, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram, or you can connect with me on LinkedIn.
[01:08:40] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using the same software, systems, and tiny habits that I use every single day. The Six-Minute Networking course is where you'll find it. That course is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig the well before you get thirsty, manage those relationships, build those relationships before you need them. Most of the guests on the show subscribe and contribute to the course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[01:09:05] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends and you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's a China watcher or might be interested in what we talked about today, especially with the social credit score stuff — I find that kind of thing fascinating — share this episode with them. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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