Daily life has become pretty slow and sticky for the 13 million Chinese citizens deemed “deadbeats” by their Communist ruling party.
But despite little being known about the mysterious national database, curated by China’s Supreme Court, information has been trickling out as to the punishments inflicted on the blacklisted.
According to the South China Morning Post, those 13 million are prohibited from taking airplanes or high-speed trains, meaning they are sometimes forced to take cross-country expeditions in cramped and crowded slow trains that can take days.
Some individuals have also reportedly had a special ringtone applied to their phones so as to shame them in front of their family and friends, according to the report.
The “discredited individuals” list was concocted in 2013 as a means to motivate Chinese people into good monetary behavior.
According to data from the National Public Information Center, by the end of 2018 more than 17.5 million people had been stopped from taking flights and more than 5.5 million were prohibited from high-speed train travel.
Being designated a “discredited individual” - referred to as laolai in Chinese - often stems from one acquiring bad credit and too much debt, and comes with a slew of other grievances beyond the scope of “luxury” travel.
Unlike time spent behind bars for a crime, this list has no term limit. Until you can pay your debts, life will be far from lush. But some argue that they can’t pay their debts because their ability to run successful businesses or hold down good jobs is impeded by the restrictions and stigmas that come being classed a “deadbeat.”