A protest which was planned by several citizens against the freezing of funds by banks was thwarted by China by changing people’s electronic health codes from green to red, which made it illegal for them to travel.
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The Chinese government has foiled a plan by hundreds of citizens to use an app on their smartphones to protest the freezing of their bank funds.
The electronic health codes on the would-be protestors’ smartphones have gone red, making it illegal for them to travel.
Several depositors told Reuters they planned to travel to Henan, China’s central province, this week to protest a nearly two-month-old ban on access to their bank deposit funds. The funds block has hampered not just individuals’ access to their assets, but also companies’ ability to pay their employees.
Mr. Chen, a depositor from Sichuan province, told Reuters, “They are putting digital handcuffs on us.” He didn’t want to disclose his entire name since he was afraid of the authorities.
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To travel across China, use public transportation, and enter public venues such as restaurants and malls, Chinese nationals must have a green code on their smartphone health app.
One bank customer in Zhengzhou stated her health code became red despite the fact that she “had never been in contact with a confirmed case, and her most recent tests showed she was negative,” according to the BBC. “She added that she was visited by health officials who asked her to stay at home and refused to explain why her status had suddenly turned red.”
The Chinese government can restrict citizens’ activities based on their “social credit score” thanks to electronic records. Transgressions, such as dissident speech, cost people points. According to human rights activist Reggie Littlejohn, this score is part of “a surveillance system that gives the CCP total control over every person in the nation.”
People with a high score can “participate ‘freely’ in society – but they are not truly free,” while those with a low score “cannot travel, borrow money, may lose their jobs, and may be unable to get their children into school,” according to Littlejohn.
Following recent COVID-19 outbreaks, certain Chinese provinces have requested that travelers register their travel plans online ahead of time, according to Reuters.
Following the freezing of deposits by Chinese banks, there have been significant protests in Henan. On April 18, Yu Zhou Xin Min Sheng Village Bank, Shangcai Huimin Country Bank, and Zhecheng Huanghuai Community Bank all froze deposits, citing an internal system upgrade as the reason.
Wang Qiong, a Chinese woman, had already protested in April. She realized that her smartphone health code had gone red when she registered to travel to Henan on June 11th. Wang told Reuters that the police had her identifying information from her last protest and that she had lost access to 2.3 million yuan ($341,550).
Mr. Liu, a resident of Hubei province, told Reuters that his health code flashed red on June 12; the day before, he had registered to travel to Henan for a protest in the hopes of getting his money back.
More than 200 depositors’ health codes have been turned red, according to members of a WeChat group. While it is unclear whether the code change was caused by protest plans, three depositors told Reuters that they know people who planned to travel to Henan for reasons unrelated to the frozen funds, and their codes did not turn red.
Other depositors told Reuters that they were able to go to Zhengzhou, the provincial capital of Henan, by train and car, but that their codes turned red once they arrived and were scanned for “city health codes.”
Family members of the depositors are also said to be affected. After her father traveled to Zhengzhou to “understand” his deposit freezing, one woman told the BBC that she and her entire family were ordered to quarantine when their health codes turned red.
It’s unclear when or if the depositors’ codes will change back to green. Mr. Liu told Reuters that unless that happens quickly, his child may be unable to attend school.
“I can’t do anything, I can’t go anywhere. You’re treated as though you’re a criminal. It infringes on my human rights,” he said .
“The digital platform used by Vaccine Passports can provide the same totalitarian functionality as the Chinese ‘Social Credit System,” Littlejohn has previously warned.
This is precisely what is taking place in China.