China seeks QR Code tracking for all international travellers

Published on : Tuesday, November 24, 2020

China recently urged countries around the world to adopt a global COVID-19 tracking system using QR codes with the hope that it would drastically speed up international travel amid the pandemic. It was during the latest virtual G20 leaders’ summit that Chinese President Xi Jinping pushed for the introduction of a QR coded tracking system to boost international travel and business rapidly.

He mentioned in a press statement that all nations would need to coordinate a uniform set of policies in order to facilitate the smooth functioning of the global economy.  He shared that harmonising policies and standards and establishing ‘fast tracks’ to facilitate the orderly flow of personnel is required at the moment. He also stated that China has proposed a global mechanism on the mutual recognition of health certificates based on nucleic acid test results in the form of internationally accepted QR codes and said that the country is hoping that more nations will join the mechanism.

China mandated the widespread use of QR-based health certificates earlier this year. The country now has system, which uses an electronic barcode to store a person’s travel and health history that has been credited with helping to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The code issues users with a color code based on their potential exposure to the novel coronavirus. The colors resemble that of traffic lights with green being the safest, followed by amber and finally red.

Several countries across the globe have already introduced tracking app technology to monitor citizens’ movements and potential exposure to COVID-19, including Australia, Japan and Singapore. However, no coordination between the systems has been found and all the countries have experienced varying degrees of success. President Xi could not provide many details about the proposed QR code scheme for international travellers and only hoped for international cooperation on the plan. According to a study by Oxford University in April usage of tracking applications by a mere 56% of a country’s population can severely suppress the COVID-19 pandemic. But coronavirus tracking applications have been constantly met with concerns over privacy and faced reluctance by users from several countries.

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