” We must further harmonize policies and standards and establish ‘fast tracks’ to facilitate the orderly flow of personnel,” said Chinese ruler Xi Jinping at the virtual G20 summit of heads of state and government on November 21. “China has proposed a global mechanism for mutual recognition of health certificates based on nucleic acid test results in the form of internationally recognized QR codes. We hope that more countries will join this mechanism”.
This is no benign proposal to facilitate international travel and trade. On the contrary, this is almost certainly another Chinese initiative to expand their collection of the DNA of the world’s population.
So why does China want such sensitive data? Beijing is determined to dominate the biotech industry. It is also possible that Beijing is developing biological weapons targeted at specific ethnic groups.
In any case, the relentless efforts of the Chinese Communist Party to collect health data should alert the rest of the world. China’s state media claim that the country already has the world’s largest database of genetic material-80 million profiles-but Beijing wants more.
Xi did not propose a binding system of QR codes in his remarks, but this is what he apparently has in mind. The Communist Party’s Global Times recently advocated a “green health code as a requirement for boarding a flight.
The Chinese embassy in Canada has already announced that passengers flying to China must have a QR code that includes a sign identifying either a Chinese citizen or a foreigner. The code is a replacement for the current requirement for passengers to present COVID 19 test results prior to boarding.
The Chinese embassies in South Korea, France and the USA have similar requirements. Passengers arriving from Singapore on December 1 will be able to enter China with a green QR code.
As the Global Times, which is often used to publicize Beijing’s proposals, noted, “the global mechanism for mutually recognized health codes proposed by China is taking shape. China’s requirements for inbound passengers, the paper said, “may shed light on what a global mechanism for mutual recognition of health codes will look like.
There are, of course, difficult to resolve privacy concerns about a mandatory QR code. Who will trust a national government with health and travel information?
And who would administer such a system? Raina MacIntyre of the University of New South Wales suggested in the words of CNN that “a central database of information managed by the World Health Organization or a United Nations agency could be the least controversial way to create a COVID tracking app.
The World Health Organization (WHO) would perhaps be the least trustworthy administrator, especially since that organization has a questionable relationship with Beijing. The WHO finally knew that the corona virus was highly contagious, but nevertheless issued a tweet on January 14 that helped China spread the false story that the disease was not easily transmitted. In addition, the WHO took other unjustified actions that contributed to the spread of COVID-19 through Beijing beyond its borders.
In short, there is no trusted administrator of a QR system. Nonetheless, a system is coming to market because countries and airlines want to be certain that travelers are not carrying the coronavirus. Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas, for example, spoke this month about requiring passengers to have a COVID 19 vaccine, so some sort of electronic vaccination card is on the way. Early next year, the International Air Transport Association will introduce a digital health passport.
If a digital health passport does not give China legal access to the underlying travel and health data, Beijing will no doubt steal it. Chinese hackers have been targeting insurance and healthcare companies time and again. In particular, Anthem, the second largest health insurance company in America, gave them the personal data of 80 million policyholders and employees in an attack discovered in January 2015.
“China is pushing for this QR code worldwide to steal personal information,” Sean Lin, a microbiologist and former laboratory director of the viral disease division of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, told Washington Newsday. “Data security breaches will become the norm when people start using QR codes from China”.
Beijing is building its huge DNA database in many ways. For example, it is conducting Phase 3 trials of its coronavirus vaccine outside China.
In Morocco, Chinese officials have put pressure on the government to test China’s vaccine on the population. Beijing is receiving the test data, which includes the DNA of Moroccans. China is also trying to impose coercive conditions on Nigeria and most of the rest of Africa-its officials say privately that countries that do not participate in such tests will not have access to the vaccine.
China is also obtaining American DNA by buying up American companies. China’s BGI group may have the largest database of Americans after acquiring Complete Genomics in 2013. This year, GNC, which has customer profiles, was sold to a Chinese company, Harbin Pharmaceutical Group.
Another Chinese technique is to provide pedigree and other companies with low-cost “large-scale genetic sequencing”. The head of security at Ancestry 23andMe says China is looking into the company for its genetic data. Last year, there were 23 companies affiliated with China that were accredited to perform genetic testing on Americans.
While Beijing seizes American genetic data, it prohibits sharing Chinese data with foreigners. The State Council announced new restrictions in May last year, and officials are stepping up efforts to punish the transfer of genetic data.
Xi Jinping is apparently up to no good. Bill Gertz of the Washington Times reported in May that American officials are concerned that China may have been experimenting with, in Gertz’s words, “germ weapons capable of attacking ethnic groups.
Beijing’s defenders deny that China has a doctrine of “unrestricted warfare”-the name of a book written by two Chinese air force colonels in 1999-but unrestricted warfare comes anyway.
“Forget Hiroshima,” Jonathan Bass, who is studying China’s collection of genetic data, told Washington Newsday. “We have entered a new era of war.”
Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China. Follow him on Twitter and Parler @GordonGChang
The views expressed in this article are those of the author.