Henan Rural Bank depositors were forcibly assigned red codes when defending their rights. Can health codes still be used in this way?

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Text | Du Hu

China Business News reported on June 14 that after the problem of depositors’ withdrawal problems in Henan Rural Banks, some anxious depositors went to Henan, only to find that they had been forcibly assigned red codes in Zhengzhou and other places, and were then required to be quarantined locally. In fact, the health code of these people is green, and the nucleic acid test is negative. Some of these depositors suddenly turned red because they scanned a place code with the address “Southwest Exit of Zhengzhou Station”.

The Zhengzhou 12345 hotline responded to a reporter from Southern Metropolis on the evening of the 13th, saying: At present, there has been no notification that “all people who come to Zhengzhou from other places will go to the red code”. At present, low-risk areas to Zhengzhou only need a 48-hour nucleic acid test negative certificate, showing the itinerary code and health code. The official explanation is too different from the personal experience of these depositors, which enhances the suspense of the matter.


Screenshots of the itinerary card, Yukang code and Beijing Healthbao of a depositor who lives in Beijing. Source: Southern Metropolis Daily

Before the official report of the institutional media, some self-media had disclosed that depositors were forcibly assigned red codes, but because this method is too bizarre and beyond the good understanding of ordinary people, many people still feel incredible. Now some reporters have interviewed the parties who have been assigned red codes and confirmed that this is true. On the other hand, what is the basis for this approach? Why is it targeting village bank depositors alone, and there is no reply from the relevant parties.

According to relevant national regulations, health codes are used for epidemic prevention and control. They are personal QR codes formed based on real data. The health codes have three colors, namely green code, yellow code and red code. The red code refers to Persons with positive nucleic acid test, confirmed cases, asymptomatic infections, suspected cases, close contacts, sub-close contacts, and those who have traveled and lived in medium and high-risk areas in China in the past 14 days.

In the implementation of epidemic prevention policies in Shanghai and other places, the scope of red code personnel will be further refined. For example, on April 26 this year, the deputy director of Shanghai Big Data Center explained the composition of red code objects, which are the following five categories. Personnel: First, those who were initially screened positive and mixed positive; second, confirmed cases, asymptomatic infections, and suspected cases; third, close contacts; Wait.

However, comparing the red codes given to the depositors of village and town banks in Zhengzhou, Henan and other places, many doubts can be found. Those who have been assigned the red code have never been to Henan in the past 14 days, the health code is green, and the itinerary code does not contain stars. Pop-up warning: “Henan Province has positioned your health risk level as high, and the health report date is 2022-6-11.”


Itinerary code display of some depositors

These people were strangely given red codes, which brought very direct consequences. They couldn’t go to the supermarket, the shops were not allowed to enter, and even the barber shop refused, and their daily life was completely disrupted. What’s more troublesome is that these depositors who have been assigned red codes cannot decode them in the place of their household registration. The red codes are assigned by Henan Province, and other regions have no right to eliminate them. Those who were given red codes after arriving in Henan were asked to either return or quarantine on site for 14 days.

So far, neither the Henan Province or Zhengzhou City Epidemic Prevention and Control Command, nor the department responsible for the disposal of village banks have responded to this matter, and the parties can only infer from the same identity they share – the depositors of village banks – who have been assigned the red code. The motive is to use the health code as a tool and use the epidemic prevention and control as an excuse to limit these depositors outside Henan Province to prevent rights protection from expanding their negative impact.

If the current report is true, this practice of assigning red codes has nothing to do with epidemic prevention and control, but under the banner of epidemic prevention and control, it has already caused extremely serious harm to epidemic prevention and control. One is that it disrupts the code assignment rules and uses the red code for other purposes than epidemic prevention, and this purpose is likely to be out of reach. The second is that if this extreme approach cannot be corrected, the health code red code and even the entire health code system will lose credibility.


Photos of the Zhengzhou venue code circulating in the depositor’s WeChat group. Source: Southern Metropolis Daily

In other words, if you put aside the only coding condition for epidemic prevention and control, Henan’s controversial practice has made a very bad start. The code assignment rule is to provide the basis for accurate epidemic prevention, but if the red code is used for other social governance goals, and the use of personal information and privacy transferred by the public to epidemic prevention to create an electronic fence, this not only breaks through the legitimacy of epidemic prevention, but also creates an electronic fence. There are also legal issues.

Except for Zhengzhou 12345, relevant parties should not keep silent about the questioned red code incident, because no one can afford to disrupt the overall situation of epidemic prevention. A few days ago, the State Council warned about the excessive epidemic prevention practices of the three provinces of Anhui, Hebei and Shaanxi, and warned against the increased epidemic prevention chaos. However, it is suspected that the red code is forcibly assigned to a specific group of people. In fact, it goes beyond the meaning of layer-by-layer coding, and advances to a more unbearable level, and there must be definite clarification.

Therefore, according to the caliber of Zhengzhou 12345, whether the issue of the red code is a “misunderstanding” of the depositors of the village and township banks, or some loopholes in some places and departments, it is worth a serious investigation to get to the bottom of it. If it is a “misunderstanding”, then a detailed explanation should be given to save the parties from troubles as soon as possible; if it is not a unified deployment, it cannot be a system error, so people must be held accountable to save the public image of Henan’s epidemic prevention.

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