A Murderer at Large Turns Himself in Due to Unable to Make a Living Without Health Code

May 6, 2020 0:44 am

Beijing (PingWest)—A middle-aged Chinese man turned himself in to Hangzhou police recently, admitting that he killed a man 24 years ago and began a life on the run since then, China News, a state-owned media, reported on May 5.

According to the confession of the suspect, he killed the victim with an accomplice in his village 24 years ago because of an argument.

From then on, the man went on a run. With no ID card and mobile phone, he could only rely on gigs to maintain livelihood. "Due to fear of being caught, I dare not have any contact with my family," he said.

On May 1, the man traveled to Hangzhou. Unable to show his ID card and health code required by the authorities, the man was turned down when looking for a job, renting an apartment, or even entering a store for shopping, so he had to sleep on the street.

"Hangzhou's regulation is too strict. I was so scared because there was nowhere to go," the man said, explaining why he decided to turn himself in to the police on May 3.

Running as standalone smartphone apps or mini-programs inside popular apps such as WeChat and Alipay, health codes are digital IDs developed by China's central and local governments that bind to individual citizens in the age of heightened security amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The codes have different colors that indicate users' general risk of having been infected, aggregated from their travel and contact history, current health conditions, personal information, and more. 

Generally, people given a green code means that they have not traveled recently, are not posing a risk to others, and will be allowed to enter establishments or travel relatively freely. Yellow codes indicate that the holders should be recommended to stay in just in case, because they may have been in contact with infected or suspected cases. Red codes mean that the holders are posing a significant public health risk, often times confirmed COVID-19 patients themselves or known close contact of confirmed cases, and should be in isolation.

China is now attempting to implemente a unified national health code, integrating personal data, including ID, health status, travel data, etc. Tencent, the Chinese tech giant, is helping the authorities to advance the work, and announced its health codes have covered more than 700 million people in China.