After China’s “White Paper Movement” outbreak, pandemic prevention measures have been significantly relaxed. For example, after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officially introduced 10 new pandemic prevention measures, it announced that starting on December 13, the “itinerary code” would be removed and no longer restrict the freedom of all people. But there is also the view that social media surveillance and asset monitoring are still common.
The Chinese Academy of Information and Communication Technology issued a notice via Wechat on December 12, based on the relevant request of the Department of State Council General Prevention and Control Mechanism. It said from the early morning of the 13th; it would officially remove the “itinerary code.” In addition, inquiry channels, including text messages, websites, WeChat apps, Alipay programs, and other related apps will also be removed.
Since the pandemic outbreak, China’s three major telecommunications companies, China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom, have jointly launched so-called “big data itinerary information codes” to track users’ location through their mobile phones. When people go in and out of a particular place, besides displaying the health code, they must also authenticate the “itinerary code” to confirm their whereabouts.
Ahead of the official announcement that the “itinerary code” will be removed, some Twitter users shared that a city in Jiangsu’s urban area has 13 codes, and some counties have secret codes. As a result, many places refuse entry to outsiders, and even people from other regions will have to be quarantined. Hence, the outside world considers the itinerary code removal as a signal to continue to relax the pandemic prevention. In this regard, Vision Times quoted netizens as saying, “The electronic dog leash is finally taken off!,” however, some pointed out that “the itinerary code is gone, but the health code is still there!”
Since the pandemic outbreak in Wuhan at the end of 2019, the SMS query service in the itinerary code has been used by 200 million people. Then it was upgraded to be able to query the websites. As a result, officials can query information about all counties and cities the users have traveled through within 14 days.
From January 2021, officials will remove red markings for medium and high-risk areas and only make a note after the city name as a travel reminder.
Since September, the CCP’s service platform has integrated the “Health Code” and “Itinerary Code” into a “Single-page query,” which can be viewed at the same time when opening Alipay. Currently, in the face of a wave of anti-lockdown protests in many places, the CCP is under pressure to “brightly” lift the lockdown and announce a complete cancelation of the itinerary. As a result, the above series of actions have attracted the outside world’s attention.