Authord by Niee Law and Ying Cheung via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Since the new chief executive, John Lee Ka-chiu took office; he has been ready to do whatever it takes to please the CCP.
The Hong Kong government (HKgov) has been proactively seeking ways to reopen cross-borders with China.
Hkgov plans to enforce the CCP’s Health Code tracking into Hongkongers’ pandemic life. Commentators and netizens are nervous about losing personal freedom and privacy under the regime.
HKgov has plans to add the COVID-19 Color Code system to the current LeaveHomeSafe App. Doing so will further restrict citizens’ movements. This app is a HKgov-made mobile vaccine passport for tracing and tracking COVID-19 patients and their public visits.
Lo Chung-mau, Secretary for Health Authority (HA), said the Information, Technology and Industry Bureau (ITIB) and HA had concluded an evaluation of LeaveHomeSafe just half a month after the new government took office on July 1.
Lo claimed that Hong Kong must mirror the CCP’s Dynamic-Zero Policy to ease pandemic cases, as it is a good policy. “Any policy which eliminates high-risk patients’ public visits is a good policy we should learn from.” His comments confirmed citizens’ concern about real-identity-based registration on the app.
Limitation of Movement or Under Surveillance
Hong Kong has been quietly running a similar system since 2021. Nevertheless, the Hong Kong code had only been applied to those who cross the borders of Guangdong Province, China, or Macau under quarantine exemptions. The color code allowed both cities to watch their Covid-19 cases.
Hong Kong Code is essentially based on the PCR Test Pass, with PCR short for polymerase chain reaction-based nucleic acid test for COVID-19.
Unlike the current Hong Kong Code, which only traces a small group of exempted visitors, HKgov is now discussing tracking everyone in Hong Kong.
Three color indicators will be added to the existing vaccine pass by bracketing media reports, and standards of both PCR and Hong Kong vaccine passes.
Code Red represents COVID-19 confirmed patients, close-contact persons, any coronavirus-positive patients within 14 days upon discharge, persons who are undergoing compulsory COVID-19 test, and anyone who had reported symptoms of the virus within the past 14 days.
Code Yellow symbolizes anyone who has visited or is currently living in the high-risk areas, those who are waiting to be tested. Public places such as restaurants and gyms will not grant entry to anyone with Code Yellow.
As for Code Green, anyone is tested negative—but the green code is only valid for one day.
Lo claimed that the new rule “has nothing to do with wanting to reopen cross borders with China.”
Hongkongers and critics are worried about Hong Kong becoming another CCP surveillance city.
Public Opinions Are Loud and Clear
As soon as the news broke, Hongkongers’ criticism and queries buzzed.
Some said that the new code could ban them from dining in restaurants even if they had been vaccinated. Other citizens criticized HKgov for being ignorant. One of the netizens expressed, “Does HKgov realize how many people still don’t own or know how to work a smartphone? Asking them to learn how to use your app sends them to their graves.”
The general public is also wondering: Why would Hong Kong copy a failed policy of Dynamic-Zero from the CCP?
One of the netizens raised a worrying question. “Will the government turn our Health Code to Code Red one day as they did in Henan Province? Will our banks ban us from withdrawing our money?”
A Blow to Personal Privacy
Sam Ng Chi-sum, the former RTHK host of Headliners, commented during his online program that HKgov had never been able to eliminate privacy concerns of LeaveHomeSafe.
Ng continued, “Many Hongkongers are still hesitant to install LeaveHomeSafe. If HKgov pushes for the real-identity registration policy, Hongkongers will have zero privacy.”
Ng emphasized the Beijing regime has been using the Health Code to control and track the people of China around the clock. Ng said, “The CCP has been using Code Red against human rights and political activists. Who can explain that?”
In November 2021, Chinese human rights lawyer Xie Yang was about to fly to Shanghai to visit the mother of the citizen journalist Zhang Zhan. When he arrived at the airport, Xie was unexpectedly banned from flying as his PCR Test Pass turned red. Once he got home, the code became green again.
The public’s concerns are not groundless.
Ng mentioned, “If the regime is turning Hong Kong into a surveillance city, LegCo will not stop that from happening.”
Health Tools Become Surveillance Tools.
The Beijing government launched the Health Code nationwide in early 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only those with Code Green can get a pass. Compulsory PCR tests or self-quarantine are required for everyone else, and they must remain home until Code Green is signaled.
Many other cases have proven that the authorities use the Health Code to restrict personal freedom.
In Henan Province, certain banks in rural areas have frozen customers’ assets since April 2022. Villagers could not withdraw their savings.
In June 2022, when hundreds of frustrated villagers planned to partake in a protest in Zhengzhou, everyone‘s original health code turned from green to red. No one could attend the rally as everyone had to stay home.
Other bank account holders also said they encountered the same issue despite their negative PCR Test.
Mainland media outlet Caixin reported that these customers’ Health Code going red is not pandemic-related.
Those customers were the victims of frozen savings accounts by Henan banks.
The Supervisory Committee of Zhengzhou Municipal Commission for Discipline Inspection later announced that the involved officials had been penalized, demoted, or dismissed from their positions in the CCP.
In the Henan village bank incident, 1317 villages were red-coded and blocked from withdrawing their savings by the banks.
On June 24, 2022, the Disease Control Bureau of the National Health Commission of China announced that any change in Health Code’s colors except for COVID-19 will be forbidden.
Face Recognition Revealed by Hong Kong Media
So when people under the Beijing regime had no control over their money or personal freedom, the public’s concerns about being watched were not groundless.
In May 2022, FactWire, a Hong Kong investigative news agency, reported that the Android version of LeaveHomeSafe had a built-in face recognition module.
The Office of the Government Chief Information Center admitted that the app development contractor had included a pre-existing facial recognition module during the development stage of LeaveHomeSafe. The office also claimed that the facial recognition function was “never activated.”
Freedom Has limits
Secretary for Health Authority Lo Chung-mau justified this in response to movement restrictions. “Freedom would be limited for the uninfected if sick people were allowed the freedom to roam.” Lo also claimed, “Freedom has limits. At risk, people should not be allowed to go out and endanger others.”