, China removes a trip tracking app as part of the most recent relaxation of COVID restrictions -

China removes a trip tracking app as part of the most recent relaxation of COVID restrictions

In the latest easing of some of the strictest anti-virus regulations in the world, people in China cheered the withdrawal on Tuesday of a state-mandated app designed to track whether they had traveled to COVID-affected areas.

In response to widespread protests against the restrictions last month, which had represented the worst display of public unhappiness in mainland China since President Xi Jinping took office in 2012, China last week began to eliminate important components of its strict “zero-COVID” policy.

This has included removing the requirement for testing before many public events, restricting quarantine, and most recently, shutting down an app called “itinerary code” that detractors had claimed might be used for widespread surveillance and societal control of the populace.

At midnight on Monday, the app was deactivated by the authorities, and China’s four telecom companies announced they would destroy any user data related to the app. Weibo, a social networking site, was used by internet users to celebrate its demise.

I hope to never see you again, itinerary code,” one user said. Another person said, “The hand that reached out to exert power during the pandemic should now be pulled back.”

In addition to using so-called health codes that residents must scan to enter public spaces in order to determine whether they may have been exposed to the virus, officials also employed itinerary numbers to track domestic travel within China.

Several cities, including Shanghai, have stated that residents are no longer needed to produce these codes when accessing places like shops and restaurants, though the authorities have not officially confirmed their demise.

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