General, Research, Technology

In China, the app decides whether you can leave your home. Do you want the same?

Coronavirus continues its "journey" throughon our planet - now it’s even hard to name countries that do not reveal a single case of infection among the population (the main thing is that Greenland is still holding). However, the epicenter of all this disgrace has not disappeared, China remains where it takes rather tough measures to combat the spread of coronavirus. One way is the Alipay Health Code system. No, this is not a payment system that allows you to receive medical care in paid clinics. Rather, it’s George Orwell’s terrible nightmare, because with this tool the authorities control the citizens of China.

People receive QR codes on their phones, while volunteers check their temperature before entering the market in Kunming, in the southern Chinese province of Yunnan.


  • 1 What is Alipay Health Code
  • 2 How China Watches Coronavirus Patients
  • 3 What is happening in China now
  • 4 How the Chinese relate to Alipay Health Code

What is Alipay Health Code?

In fact, nothing to do with health, thisthe system does not have (almost). This is the section of Alipay, a mobile application that “by coincidence” is the most popular payment method in China and is installed on the smartphone of many Chinese. Residents of 200 cities of China are obliged to connect to the system (and their number is only growing). The user downloads the application (if not already) and provides access to personal information - sends his geolocation and city of residence, which are uploaded to state servers. Already doesn’t sound very right? But this is not the worst and most surprising.

After the user has sent all the data,the application assigns it one of the color QR codes - green, yellow or red. If a citizen received a green code, then he can move without restrictions; if yellow - should stay at home for a week. And if you receive a red code, it is guaranteed to be quarantined for two weeks. Obviously, this was done so that potential virus carriers do not come into contact with healthy people who are assigned a green code.

QR code inside the Alipay app. Green color allows the owner to travel freely

The idea seems to be not bad, only to anyoneit is not known by which algorithm a code is assigned to a user. No one (except the creators of this system) knows exactly how it works, and why residents of the same house can receive a yellow and green code right away. Neither the company nor Chinese officials explained in detail how the system classifies people. This caused fear and bewilderment among those ordered to isolate themselves, and they have no idea why.

And some Chinese people generally received a red code without any symptoms of a coronavirus, NYT writes. It is simply impossible to remove such a mark without having passed the two-week quarantine.

How China Monitors Coronavirus Patients

According to the publication, in some cities in ChinaNow you can’t move around without this code. So, in Hangzhou, which has become a pilot area for the Alipay Health Code, you need to constantly show your code to government officials - for example, when entering the subway or guarding a large supermarket.

In addition, scanned QR codes are sent toserver, thereby transmitting information about the movement of a person. So the system determines the route of movement of citizens. Moreover, it is connected to city surveillance systems, booking transport tickets and other electronic services.

Instructions for using the Alipay Health Code at the entrance to Hangzhou Metro. The QR code on the mark can be scanned to configure the software.

The problem is that the government is essentiallygets another tool for tracking people, and so raw that the first-year programming project will be more holistic. One resident of China said that her code was red for one day, although she had no symptoms, and then, for inexplicable reasons, changed to green. The hotline support call did not give any answers.

And yet she favors this system.

Green code - travel freely. Red or yellow - report immediately.

If we had to use this system endlessly, it would be crazy - a big headache, ”she said. “But during an epidemic, that makes sense.”

And while many Chinese people will take their privacy this way, systems like the Alipay Health Code will evolve.

Alipay already has all our data. So what are we afraid of?

It is interesting what this resident of China would say if she had not lost the red code, but remained for two weeks.