China wants the WHO to allow it to create a global vaccine passport system that would serve as a “certificate for international travel.” The request is pretty bold for an authoritarian regime known for its massive surveillance system.
China launched a new domestic travel policy allowing more freedom to people who have received the vaccine. Now, Beijing wants the WHO’s approval to launch a global vaccine certification system for international travel because it can “help by sharing its experience with and provide technical support.”
China believes it is “the most experienced country in using a health code system in the world.”
Speaking to Aljazeera, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry said that a system would “help promote world economic recovery and facilitate cross-border travel.”
“In terms of technology, I believe that Chinese companies can build an international platform in just one week, but it is better that the WHO, rather than any country or regional organization, be the organizer to ensure the independence, fairness and data security of the platform,” the Director General of Information Consumption Alliance, Xiang Ligang, told the Global Times, a state-run news outlet.
But the WHO is not welcoming the idea. Besides, very few countries would accept a system created by China – for several reasons, including the country’s bad record with transparency and the fact that it is the country where the outbreak started.
The WHO’s director of Health Emergencies Program, Dr. Michael Ryan, expressed his disapproval of China’s requests, warning that the proposal has “real practical and ethical considerations.”
“Vaccination is just not available enough around the world and is not available certainly on an equitable basis,” Ryan explained. He has a point since the vaccination has not even begun in some poorer countries in Africa, Asia, and South America.
China added its vaccination certification system to the so-called “social credit system,” which awards a citizen points for complying with the government’s laws and policies. The social credit system is the reason some Chinese residents cannot travel by air or train and are denied some government services. Now, those who have not been vaccinated are restricted from both local and international travel.