China has launched a health certificate programme for its citizens who travel intrnationally, leading the world in plans for so-called virus passports.
As being reported, the certificate, which is also available in paper form, is currently only for use by Chinese citizens and is not yet mandatory.
The digital certificate, which shows a user’s vaccination status and virus test results, is available for Chinese citizens via a programme on the Chinese social media platform WeChat, launched on Monday.
The certificate issued by the authorities will include details about the holder’s COVID-19 vaccination information and coronavirus test results, the Department of Consular Affairs under China’s foreign ministry said on its website.
State media agency Xinhua reported on Monday that the China’s programme includes an encrypted QR code that allows authorities to obtain a traveller’s health information,
“QR health codes” on WeChat and other Chinese smartphone apps are already required to gain entry to domestic transport and many public spaces in China.
Reportedly, the smartphone apps track a user’s location and produce a “green” code – synonymous with good health – if a user has not been in close contact with a confirmed case or has not travelled to a virus hotspot.
However, the system has sparked privacy concerns and fears that this initiative is an expansion of Chinese government surveillance of its citizens.
As coronavirus vaccines are globally being rolled out, a few countries including Bahrain have already introduced certificates identifying vaccinated people, and the European Union agreed to develop vaccine passports under pressure from tourism-dependent southern countries, as Reuters reports.