Wanted Money Back But Code Turned Red? Authority Urged...

A number of homebuyers of a residential project under construction in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan Province, complained that their health codes had turned red for no apparent reason after they reported problems with their properties to the authorities.

Most of the cases occurred on Monday, the day when some depositors planned to gather in Zhengzhou to urge for the withdrawal of their money. Snapshots of red health codes also included those of people who are in Beijing, East China's Shandong and Central China's Hunan provinces.

Bank client Wang Yun (pseudonym) found her health code red upon arriving in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, even though she held a 48hr negative PCR test report, Yicai, a financial news outlet affiliated with China Business Network, reported Tuesday.

After the four Henan rural banks were reported to have been caught in illegal fundraising scandals, their online service of money withdrawal was suspended and clients could only go to the banks' offices in Henan to withdraw their money, media reported.

Another bank client surnamed Deng lives in Shijiazhuang in North China's Hebei Province and has not been to Henan in the past 14 days. He is in a chat group formed by fellow depositors. Deng's health code turned red after he scanned a QR code for "Zhengzhou station west exit" which was shared in the chat group.

Another depositor reached by the Global Times via Sina Weibo said her code turned red too after scanning the QR code on Monday afternoon even if she did not leave her home in Luohe, Henan. The depositor had deposited some 100,000 yuan ($14,870) in a rural bank in Zhengzhou.

According to Global Times, Zhengzhou city hotline 12345 replied that the red code was not granted at the city level and the city cannot handle the situation. Henan Health Commission said that it had received relevant complaints since Monday and reported the situation to relevant authorities.

As of Tuesday afternoon, some of the red codes have returned green automatically, and Henan authorities said errors in the database may be the reason of the glitch.

Consecutive incidents of suspected abuse of the health code have raised public concerns about the safety of the system. Lao Dongyan, a professor of law at Tsinghua University, said in a media interview with Caixin that if a red code was assigned to targeted people by some officials, the practice may be suspected of violating the Infectious Disease Control Law, the Personal Information Protection Law and the criminal law.

Observers warned that health codes, which are used as a tool for COVID-19 prevention and control must be strictly regulated to avoid undermining the public's trust in the overall policy. Some grassroots disputes or "technical errors" must not be allowed to affect public confidence and the overall situation in the fight against the virus, observers noted.

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