My analysis has appeared in: Forbes, The Hill, War on the Rocks, China File, The National Interest, The Strategist, China Brief, and Jane’s Intelligence Review, among others. To commission a piece, please email your request to: Please state your full name and affiliation.

Latest |

Illustration by Wes Mountain, commissioned by ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre
Illustration by Wes Mountain, commissioned by ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre

Social Credit

Grasping Power with Both Hands: Social Credit, the Mass Line and Party Control

My new article for the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief  is focused on how the social credit system functions as a tool for making the Chinese Communist Party’s political control structurally inseparable from China’s economic and social development. It explains why social credit is always simultaneously a tool for problem-solving and an Orwellian tool for control. More…

Social Credit: Technology-Enhanced Authoritarian Control with Global Consequences

My June 2018 report for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre is now available. It explores the global implications of the Social Credit System, which is far more expansive than commonly assumed. More… 

Media Coverage: 

  • “ZTE Could Help Chinese ‘Institutes’ at Western Schools Become Surveillance Hubs” in The Daily Beast by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
  • “Technology & the Chinese Military, and The Mexican Election” ABC on Matter of Fact with Stan Grant
  • “China’s big brother targets foreign companies like Qantas” in the Financial Review by Angus Grigg
  • “China’s social credit system ‘could interfere in other nations’ sovereignty’” The Guardian (Australia) by Kelsey Munro

Highlights |

(Image: Copyright MERICS)
(Image: Copyright MERICS)

Autonomic Security

“Programming China: The Communist Party’s Autonomic Approach to Managing State Security” 

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has developed a form of authoritarianism that cannot be measured through traditional political scales like “reform” versus “retrenchment”. This version of authoritarianism involves co-opting and coercing society into participating in its own management. I.e. “self-management”. Examples of this dynamic range from the increasingly sophisticated surveillance state to the nascent social credit system. More…

(Image: User 360b/
(Image: User 360b/

China’s CSSC 

Peter Mattis and I have co-authored several articles on China’s Central State Security Commission, which include:

"China’s State Security Strategy: ‘Everyone is Responsible’" | The Strategist

“A couple of counter-espionage videos published as part of an online course on state security for China’s primary and secondary school students caught the attention of the international media last month. One video focuses on a child whose father emailed military secrets to overseas media and eventually confessed to sharing state secrets…” (Image: User Vybr8/Wikimedia Commons)

"Managing the State: Social Credit, Surveillance and the CCP's Plan for China" | China Brief

“On July 20, the Chinese government released its Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan. [1] The plan has gained significant media attention in part because it links AI with another topic that has drawn a considerable amount of attention, China’s “social credit system” (社会信用体系). Social credit uses big-data collection and analysis, to monitor, shape and rate individual’s behavior…”

"Chinese Legislation Points to New Intelligence Co-Ordinating System" | Jane's Intelligence Review

“On 28 June 2017, China’s new National Intelligence Law took effect. The law outlined the authority to monitor suspects, raid premises, and seize property, leading it to be described as “tough” in a Reuters report on 27 June. It also laid out the authority of intelligence organs, which are responsible for “preventing and dissolving risks endangering national security”…” co-authored with Peter Mattis (Image: User 360b/

"China's Incursion on American Campuses is Nothing to Take Lightly" | The Hill

“CCP interference takes many forms, but the proper responses are rarely so clear. Treating CCP organizations on U.S. campuses as a challenge to civil liberties, and not as a national security issue, also requires understanding how our own efforts can be impeded. The best way to respond is to enhance elements of our systems for civil liberties protection.” Co-authored with Peter Mattis. (Image: User 360b /

Complete List |

  • “Technology and Chinese Communist Party Power.” in Party Watch Annual Report 2018, Party Watch Initiative, 18 October 2018.
  • “Grasping Power with Both Hands: Social Credit, the Mass Line, and Party Control.” China Brief, 10 October 2018.
  • “Hacking for Ca$h.” ASPI International Cyber Policy Centre, 25 September 2018.
  • “Huawei and the ambiguity of China’s intelligence and counter-espionage laws.” The Strategist, 13 September 2018.
  • “Social Credit: Technology Enhanced Social Control with Global Consequences.” ASPI International Cyber Policy Centre, 28 June 2018. 
  • “China’s Incursion on American Campuses is Nothing to Take Lightly.” The Hill, 3 May 2017.
  • “Programming China: The Communist Party’s Autonomic Approach to Managing State Security.” MERICS Monitor No 44, 12 December 2017.
  • “China’s State Security Strategy: ‘Everyone is Responsible’.” The Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s The Strategist, 11 December 2017. Republished as IISS Expert Commentary on 14 December 2017 and as a Mercator Institute for China Studies blog on 15 December 2017.
  • “Chinese Legislation Points to New Intelligence Co-Ordinating System.” Jane’s Intelligence Review, October 2017.
  • “Managing the State: Social Credit, Surveillance and the CCP’s Plan for China.” China Brief, 17 August 2017
  • “Is Big Data Increasing Beijing’s Capacity for Control?” contribution in China File conversation co-authored with Peter Mattis, also published in Foreign Policy as “What Could China’s ‘Social Credit System’ Mean for its Citizens?” August 2016.
  • “Managing the Power from Within: China’s State Security Commission.” co-authored with Peter Mattis, War on the Rocks, 18 July 2016.
  • “’Dangerous Love’: China’s All-Encompassing Security Vision.” The National Interest, 17 May 2016.
  • “Cautious Partners: Asian Cyber-Security Alliance Remains Distant.” Jane’s Intelligence Review, May 2016.
  • “Ensuring Comprehensive State Security in the “Ideological Battleground” Online.” China Brief, 16 November 2015.
  • “Space Control: China Tightens Grip on Cyberspace.” Jane’s Intelligence Review, June 2015.
  • “Environmental Protests Expose Weaknesses in China’s Leadership.” co-authored with Jonathan Sullivan, Forbes, 22 June 2015. 
  • “Why a village land protest spells trouble for China’s government”, co-authored with Jonathan Sullivan, The Conversation, 10 April 2015. Also appeared in The Straits Times and The Business Spectator
  • “China prioritises managing unrest over reforms.” Jane’s Intelligence Review, February 2015.
  • “Escalating Land Protests in Yunnan”, China Policy Institute Blog, 6 November 2014.
  • “In China, people are protesting about the government’s rubbish policy on waste incineration.” The Conversation, 2 October 2014. 
  • “China must follow through on pledges to improve notorious petition system.” (appeared in SCMP print edition as “Limited Appeal”), co-authored with Jonathan Sullivan, The South China Morning Post, 27 May 2014. 
  • “China can’t ignore Workers’ well-being if it wants to avert strikes.” (SCMP print edition “Costs and Benefits” and SCMP Chinese Online Edition “Gaoshan gongren fuli cai shi bimian gongchao zhi dao”), co-authored with Jonathan Sullivan, The South China Morning Post, 29 April 2014. 
  • “China’s new petitioning guidelines and social governance policy.” China Policy Institute Blog, 3 March 2014.
  • “China’s Proposed ‘State Security Council’: Social governance under Xi Jinping.” co-authored with Peter Mattis, China Policy Institute Blog, 21 November 2013. 
  • “Inside China’s New Security Council.” co-authored with Peter Mattis, The National Interest, 21 November 2013.
  • “Portents of Change in China’s Social Management.” China Brief, 3 August 2012. 
  • “Sino-Philippine Tension and Trade Both Rising Amid Scarborough Standoff,” China Brief, 27 April 2012.
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