Flat White

Henan: China allegedly restricts protesters with Covid app

13 July 2022

10:00 AM

13 July 2022

10:00 AM

Since April of 2022, hundreds of Chinese in the Henan province have been attending protests against several banks after their funds were frozen. An investigation was launched related to matters of serious crime, but customers remained unable to access their money with the situation dragging on for months.

Beginning in May, protesters accused the local government of using the national mandatory Covid app to restrict their movements.

All of a sudden, those who either attended or tried to attend a rally found the health app on their phone had turned ‘red’ which immediately denies them access to buildings, public transport, shops, and workplaces. Others were sent directions to quarantine.

It’s the stuff of nightmares.

In the same way that Vaccine Passports in the West have been required to participate in society (and are still active in some places, much to the shame of those institutions, businesses, and government departments), China enforces the ‘health status’ of its citizens in nearly every aspect of their lives. This system was developed to pursue China’s Zero-Covid policy, which remains in place and is the cause of city-wide lockdowns, as was seen in Shanghai (which appears to be about to enter another lockdown).

A ‘red’ status on China’s health pass is akin to being thrown under house arrest and shunned by society.

Crucially, those with a red health status are unable to travel, which many believe has been weaponised by local officials to punish them for leaving their villages to attend protests in Zhengzhou.

Asia Nikkei writes:

The banks are all controlled by Henan Xuchang Rural Commercial Bank, which is under investigation for alleged corruption of executives. Preliminary probes found that the banks worked with a local company to illegally receive deposits from the public, authorities said.

Hundreds further allege that they were unable to attend the protests against the banks due to a ‘red’ code appearing on their app without cause, ensuring that the protests didn’t have the required numbers to pressure the banks.

This behaviour would be considered a violation of China’s Law on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases and the Personal Information Protection Law. Even the Global Times former editor, Hu Xijin, said that – if true – it would constitute a ‘clear violation’.

Speaking to the BBC, one Chinese woman impacted by the health app insisted that she had a negative Covid test with no evidence that she had been in recent contact with a Covid case. When she questioned the officials directing her to quarantine and self-isolate at home, she said that they refused to explain why.

Another woman told BBC Chinese:

‘I am not a customer, it’s my dad who deposited money in one of the banks and now he can’t get it out. He recently went to Zhengzhou to understand the situation. Once he came back, his health status turned red. My whole family is now in quarantine after our statuses turned red.’

The officials involved in Henan are being investigated.

Worryingly, China announced this month that it would ‘update’ Hong Kong’s health app to bring it in line with mainland China. This would require Hong Kong residents to register their identities with the government. Hong Kong’s current version of the app ‘Leave Home Safe’ is less intrusive.

This is significant, given Hong Kong’s recent history of Freedom protests complaining about the rapid destruction of civil liberties after China broke an international agreement and took full control of Hong Kong decades ahead of schedule. China has been heavily criticised for the violent suppression of protesters.

As reported by Channel News Asia:

Lo Chung-Mau, the city’s [Hong Kong] news health secretary said that he hoped the app would be updated soon and that it would help to enforce quarantine orders for people to isolate at home.

People infected with the virus would be coded red on the app, and people undergoing quarantine would be coded yellow and have to wear tracking wristbands.

This potential violation of a health app matters because, like in the West, a citizen’s medical status is increasingly being linked to their digital identity – and this digital identity is required to access goods, services, and fundamental rights.

Travel and employment in Australia remains restricted by Vaccine Passports with a similar ‘red’ or ‘green’ status that polices citizens. Australia’s Trusted Digital Identity legislation, appallingly tabled by the Morrison government despite being a product of the World Economic Forum’s global digital identity program, threatens to permanently enshrine ‘health status’ with our identity in a way that has already been used by government to control people or pressure them into making health decisions to regain control of their rights.

Compliance to medical doctrine in our daily lives has previously been prohibited by a combination of privacy laws and technical shortcomings, but the ‘Big Brother’ era is fast approaching. Governments around the world used the mantra of ‘emergency’ to create systems of medical surveillance and control that would never – in a million years – be agreed to.

The end of the emergency has not seen the automatic binning of such technology (or the expansion of political power). Far from it, there appears to be a freight train of follow-up legislation designed to permanently weave medical status into our lives where our freedom can be turned on and off at a moment’s notice.

The problems facing the citizens of China are not bespoke to their communist regime. In Canada’s constitutional monarchy and allegedly civilised democracy, ‘liberal’ leader Justin Trudeau all-but destroyed the lives of those citizens who refused to submit to vaccination, forcing them out of their jobs. Those who complained by way of protest found their bank accounts frozen while using false and derogatory slurs that drew the ire of the world.

Australians cannot ignore the rhetoric of state Premiers like Victoria’s Daniel Andrews who said that he would use Vaccine Passports to essentially lock the unvaccinated out of society for years.

‘There is going to be a vaccinated economy, and you get to participate in that if you are vaccinated. We’re going to move to a situation where, to protect the health system, we are going to lock out people who are not vaccinated and can be,’ said Daniel Andrews, in September of 2021. His threat was shocking, and we should not forget that it was made.

Similarly, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan warned, ‘Life is about to get very difficult for you … it’s a big encouragement to go and get yourself vaccinated.’

Or, perhaps worst of all, when Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie said:

‘Those anti-vaxxers out there, or that 20-30 per cent, the ones out there protesting in the streets and doing that sort of thing, I think you’re going to find the rest of us coming at you lock, stock and barrel. We’re going to be putting the pressure on you fairly hard because the rest of us that are trying to do the right thing by the country and our kids and get vaccinated. I think for you, we’re going to start to get even more agitated, and we’re going to start to get more hardcore. That’s what you’re going to see, massive division out there, and it will be us on the front foot. The tide is going to turn on these anti-vaxxers out there, and you’re really going to feel the heat.’

No Australian politician should be able to speak this way about citizens, and yet the comments were largely cheered on. Don’t say that you weren’t warned when this happens again.

The Henan Provincial Health Commission has said that they are investigating the complaints made by customers about their health passes, though it may come as little comfort to Chinese nationals, many of whom already live under the close watch of the state through the Chinese Social Credit System which has been specifically and intimately linked with Covid regulation.

Anouk Eigenraam said it best when she tweeted on June 14:

‘This red health codes is exactly the reason why China will keep this 0 covid alive a long time. It’s to [sic] useful as a tool for control. I’ve been saying this for a year and many people kept saying ‘but the economy’, well as we saw they’re very willing to take a hit.’

The elephant in the global room is the little white lie underpinning health passes and Vaccine Passports.

Originally, vaccine status was meant to ‘stop the spread’. Therefore, it was ‘safe’ for a fully vaccinated person to move freely around society and ‘unsafe’ for an unvaccinated person. Vaccine Passports ‘protected’ workplaces from infection – hence unvaccinated people weren’t allowed to step foot in their offices despite shopping with workmates down at the local supermarket.

This logic was debunked long before Vaccine Passports entered use and despite fully vaccinated workplaces, gyms, restaurants, planes, cruise ships, and homes all being infected and re-infected with Covid for the last two years – vaccine discrimination remains, as does the repetition of outdated advice.

Tracking apps are not much better when a virus brags of extremely high asymptomatic infection rates. In short, this behaviour makes it mathematically pointless to restrict the movement of some known infections while an unknown (of far greater quantity) remain untracked and wandering about. This results in punishing individuals for no material gain. It’s a bit like arresting a couple of jaywalkers in Sydney while several thousand swarm over the road every few minutes and then pretending you made a difference.

If the concept underpinning medical control of citizen rights is demonstrably false, what hope do we have that governments will be honest with its future use?

‘The greater good’ isn’t going to cut it for much longer.


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