In China, the use of the health code for political purposes has outraged the population

In China, the use of the health code for political purposes has outraged the population

A person must scan their health code to enter an official building in Shanghai, China on June 1, 2022. A person must scan their health code to enter an official building in Shanghai, China on June 1, 2022. HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP

Why complicate life? Fearing that savers would face great difficulty in reclaiming their money deposited at four small banks in Henan, officials in this central Chinese province have come up with no better solution than changing their health code to red, ipso facto preventing them from opting out to move. This is apparently the first time that sesame, which has become indispensable for entering a store or buying a ticket, has been diverted from its original function to ensure the “social stability” that President Xi Jinping holds dear .

Due to the zero-Covid policy, authorities in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan, require them to be notified three days in advance of any entry into the city from another region. However, according to several statements published in the press, Chinese people who have indicated that they want to go to Zhengzhou in recent weeks have seen their code change to red as soon as they arrive at the train station in that city or even before their departure . Some even self-isolated, believing they had Covid-19. Miraculously, those who managed to reach Henan saw their code turn green as soon as they took steps to return home.

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The case is not an isolated case. According to online magazine Sixth Tone, at the forefront of the issue, owners of a complex of buildings under construction in Zhengzhou, whose construction site has been idle for months, petitioned the municipality on Sunday, May 12. On Weibo, China’s Twitter, another resident says her code changed to orange the day she planned to go to court to contest the demolition of her home — also restricting her movements.

The subject fascinates the Chinese. The associated hashtag was seen by more than 350 million internet users. Launched in 2020, the health code is now sometimes referred to as the “electronic chain”. “The government now has the power to decide whether a person is healthy or not, or more specifically, whether they pose a ‘danger’ to others,” denounced one user. To another Chinese who complained – “This is probably just the beginning” – another replies: “The doubt is too great. »

“Abuse of Power”

While the various authorities in Henan are passing the buck, the official media are trying to put out the fire. Both Hu Xijin, the columnist for the Global Times, and one of the People’s Daily online sites state that “you cannot use disease control for social control or to maintain social stability. She’s breaking the law and risking undermining public trust. Every code has its uses,” they say.

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