John Naughton: China is taking digital control of its people to unprecedented and chilling lengths | John Naughton

The Chinese government’s unsettling new system will see citizens rated by ‘good deeds’

Watching Donald Trump trying to deal with China is like watching a clown dancing in front of an elephant. The US president’s entire approach is transactional – the methodology he employed in his allegedly successful career as a property developer. It’s all sticks and carrots, bluff and counter-bluff, aggressive bluster followed by rapid retreats.

Sometimes, it appears to work. For example, the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, clearly leant on Kim Jong-un to force him to agree to a summit meeting with Trump. But then Xi leant on Trump to rescue the Chinese tech company ZTE, brought to its knees by a US ban because it had evaded sanctions on trade with Iran. Trump duly complied and ZTE executives breathed again.

Examples of deductible behaviour can apparently include not showing up at a restaurant without cancelling your booking

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