Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, April 18, 2014

What Is a Dangan?

In my last broadcast, I told you that the Chinese Communists keep tight control over their citizens by maintaining a personal file called a dangan on every citizen. Those files are written on paper, filed in manila folders, and stored in shelves from floor to ceiling in large warehouses that contains millions of these files. Several years ago, a reporter for the New York Times managed to get inside one of those warehouses and report on what he saw. The Chinese government opens a file on every citizen when the kid enters elementary school, and then shadows him throughout his life, following him through high school, college and into the workforce. The dangan contains political evaluations from supervisors and government officials that affect the person's career prospects and permission to travel. A dangan is particularly important for government officials, professors, students, and Communist Party members.

This Chinese dangan is fundamentally different from anything in the West, not only because this Chinese system covers all urban citizens, but because the file is kept by the employer. The dangan affects job opportunities and promotions. Prospective employers are expected to examine an applicant's dangan before making a hiring decision. There is no Freedom of Information Act to allow the individual to look at what is in his own file. The dangan is part of the web of social control that makes sure the Communist Party remains in power.

As the New York Times commented, it is a remarkable achievement for a poor developing country to be able to maintain hundreds of millions of secret files on its population. This is one way we can say that China is a totalitarian regime rather than an ordinary dictatorship. Most Chinese live all their lives with the dangan hanging over them to intimidate them into obeying what the Communist Party considers politically correct behavior.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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