China has not only “exported” coronavirus drama to the world – but continues to export its high technology, including that which is supposed to help fight the pandemic and control the population.
In his address during this past weekend to a G20 summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping offered other countries a piece of citizen-tracking tech that is widely deployed in his own, and is supposedly credited with helping curb the epidemic there.
While contact tracing (and almost inevitably surveillance) devices as a solution to allow people, workers in particular, to move are only now taking off in the West, where a vast new industry is emerging from the ruins of economies shuttered by lockdowns, China developed its color-coded QR code generator app as early as February, and it is now widely adopted and used billions of times.
The app, developed by Chinese tech giants Tencent and Alibaba, works by referring to contact tracing data collected by health, and it would appear, other authorities, to create a QR code that, when scanned, shows whether a person is considered healthy and allowed into public spaces (green), if they should self-isolate at home for two weeks (orange), or be immediately hospitalized or sent to a quarantine facility (if the code color comes up red).
However, the actual rules behind the process of allocating any of these colors are said to be “opaque.”
Xi, who is a big proponent of globalism, which has benefited his country enormously over the past decades, appears to be eager for things to return to some semblance of what they were before the pandemic. Thus he proposes internationally recognized health certificates that would allow unimpeded travel, or as he put it, “orderly flow of personnel.”
Here, international adoption of the QR code technology would help, Xi said, expressing hope that other countries would join. He specified that the health certificates are based on nucleic acid tests.
The Chinese leader also sees the pandemic as an opportunity for tech innovation and growth of the digital economy and e-commerce, as well as more cooperation among countries, and for providing a “level playing” field for tech companies from various parts of the world.