Xi Jinping urges G20 nations to join its QR-based health system to fast-track international and business travel

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pushed for the use of QR-based around the world to track the Covid-19 and to help fast-track international travel and business during the coronavirus pandemic.

The QR-based health certificates uses an electronic barcode to store a person’s travel and health history, has been credited with helping to curb the spread of the virus.

The code issues users with a color code based on their potential exposure to the novel coronavirus. The colors are like traffic lights — green is safest, then amber and finally red.

Speaking at the virtual G20 leaders’ meeting on Saturday, Xi said that to ensure the “smooth functioning” of the world economy during the pandemic, countries needed to coordinate a uniform set of policies and standards, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

“China has proposed a global mechanism on the mutual recognition of health certificates based on nucleic acid test results in the form of internationally accepted QR codes. We hope more countries will join this mechanism,” Xi said.

Several countries have introduced tracking app technology to monitor citizens’ movements and potential exposure to Covid-19, including Australia, Japan and Singapore, but there is no coordination between the systems and they have had varying degrees of success.

A study by Oxford University in April found that if even just 56% of a country’s population used a tracking app, it could severely suppress the Covid-19 epidemic.

But coronavirus apps have been dogged by concerns over privacy.

Now as nations around the world try to limit the use of Chinese technology, the QR based system raises serious questions.

The United States government has been pushing its close allies in Europe, North America and the Pacific to abandon Chinese 5G technology supplied by communications giant Huawei, while the popular Chinese-made app TikTok has faced bans in India and the US.