China's Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) says it is setting up a database it hopes to have in place by the end of next year to collect credit data on all companies it regulates, including drug- and foodmakers.
The agency did not provide details, state-run news agency Xinhua said, except to say by the end of 2020, members of the two industries would be required to submit credit reports to the agency, which would then rate their credit by four letters, A, B, C or D, the last one meaning poor credit, C a lack of creditworthiness.
In an announcement, the CFDA said those companies with bad credit ratings would be harshly punished and their credit information made public.
According to what the agency released so far, the plan appears similar to a similar database the government announced in October it was setting up for individual Chinese to give them a rating according to what it considers social norms, or "social credit."
By 2020, the individual social credit rating is to be based on such things as mundane as their financial credit and minor traffic violations. But social credit also is to include things the government considers negative, such as spending money on video games, criticizing the government or what a person says or does on social media, such as "liking" or "friending."
When asked about the plan for individual social credit, the American Civil Liberties Union and other critics of the plan called it "Orwellian."
Meanwhile, people on dating services are happily complying with their financial credit to help make them more attractive to a possible suitor.
For the drug and food industries, the CFDA said only that companies would be rated "in accordance with a national standard" and did not mention social behavior.