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Chinese court launches app to track debtors

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: January 25, 2019  | 19:23 IST

By K J M Varma Beijing, Jan 25 (PTI) A court in China has launched a mobile application on social media, allowing the public to supervise and report on those who avoid repaying their debts. The Higher People's Court of northern China's Hebei Province has launched the app, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The app, which can be embedded in messaging service WeChat, can help find "Laoloi" or the debtors within 500 metres of a user. The application shows the detailed information about the individuals, company representatives or other organisations in debt, it said. The public can share the debtor's information in WeChat groups or Moments to alert others about the Laolai. They can also report on the laolai to authorities via the app, Xinhua reported. Officials of the court said that they have been trying to use internet technology in the judicial work and this app will force those who have the ability to carry out their legal obligations. "The laolai map will allow the public to know about the credit conditions of people within their vicinity and force the laolai to repay their debt," said a court staff. The move thrilled the online population, with many saying that the map can help them understand if their friends, relatives or co-workers were trustworthy or not. "I hope that the app can be implemented nationwide," read a comment on microblog Sina Weibo. "I just checked my vicinity, and the app alerted me of many laolai!" read another comment. Laolais have tried many ways not to repay their debt, the report said. In 2017, a court in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, said that a 59-year-old woman had got plastic surgery done in an attempt to disguise herself to avoid repayment of 25 million yuan (USD 3.68 million) debt. According to government figures, by the end of 2018, about 17.46 million debtors were restricted from buying airplane tickets while 5.47 million from purchasing high-speed train tickets. Following the move, a total of 3.51 million debtors repaid their loans. Besides restrictions on buying plane and train tickets, local authorities in China have tried a variety of novel methods to put pressure on the debtors. In 2017, a court in eastern China introduced a shaming ringtone to embarrass debtors and put pressure on them to pay the money they owed. The Guanyun County People's Court in Jiangsu Province teamed up with a local telecommunication operator to design a "special ringtone" for local laolai. If anyone calls the debtor, the ringtone tells the caller: "The subscriber you are calling has been put on a blacklist by the Guanyun County Court for failing to repay their debt. Please urge the person to fulfil their legal obligations. The Guanyun County People's Court appreciates your support. Thank you!". PTI KJV SMJ SMJ

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