The health code system was first used in the city of Hangzhou, capital of the eastern Zhejiang province. It originally had three colors – green, yellow and red – but orange was later added. The new addition signified that the person assigned this color lives in a pandemic prevention zone.
During the launch of the health code in Hangzhou last Feb. 11, the number of applications surpassed 1.3 million. Under the health code system, only those with green codes could pass through the city. Those with other colors either had to self-isolate or meet certain COVID-19 test requirements until their colors could be changed to green.
The city's health code system is based on the province's Government Cloud health engine, developed by Jack Ma's Alibaba Group. It runs through the Alipay port on people's mobile phones – allowing the devices to decide if someone can travel or not.
A spokesperson for Alibaba affiliate Ant Group said the company does not have any data on health codes. Ant Group added that the Chinese government manages the standards and information used in the health code system. Ant Group helped develop the health code technology in its early days.
Following the success of the health codes, other derivatives have also risen across the country. These include the "enterprise code," "home harmony code," "cold chain code," "non-custodial code" and more. (Related: Beijing using the coronavirus pandemic to expand internet surveillance apparatus.)
The non-custodial code is used to monitor criminals via their mobile phones, without the need for electronic tracking devices such as bracelets or ankle rings. Criminals who are not in custody of law enforcement – such as those released on bail pending trial, those under residential surveillance and those released on parole for medical treatment – are tracked using the non-custodial code.
Several pundits put in their two cents on the communist country's surveillance through the health code. Former Capital Normal University associate professor Li Yuanhua told the Epoch Times: "The CCP uses big data and technology and uses the guise of providing services to the population to carry our authoritarian and totalitarian surveillance."
"During this pandemic, in particular through the health code, each person's information is collected into the hands of the CCP. If the information is not used as they claim, but is instead used in a bad way, then the CCP's public security apparatus can use it to monitor anyone."
According to Li, the CCP is no stranger to surveillance. In the past, Beijing utilized "small foot detection teams" consisting of elderly women sitting at the entrances of villages and residential communities. They contributed to restricting the population's movement by watching people and spotting anyone who was not a local in the area. But as time passed and new technologies became more available, the CCP adapted its surveillance methods.
He also pointed out why implementing such a scheme in the West would be difficult. "The health code policy is difficult to implement in Europe and the U.S. because these countries have strict legal requirements for privacy-sensitive data. [Meanwhile,] the most important thing for the totalitarian CCP dictatorship is to monitor everyone," said Li.
Watch how the CCP quickly changed to red the health codes of potential COVID-19 close contacts.
This video is from the Take down CCP channel on Brighteon.com.
Surveillance.news has more about China's use of COVID-19 software as monitoring tools.