The Chinese version of an international travel health certificate was officially launched on Monday by the Department of Consular Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The certificate, showing one's nucleic acid test and serum antibody results, vaccine inoculation and other information, is available for Chinese citizens via a WeChat mini program.
(Scan the QR code to use the mini-program)
A QR code is encrypted to allow authorities to verify the holder's personal information, according to the Ministry.
The health certificate is to "facilitate safe and orderly flow of personnel," the country's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a virtual press conference on Sunday.
Wang said that in the near future, as more countries agree on mutual recognition of health certificates with China, this international travel health document will play a greater role in promoting the healthy, safe and orderly exchange of transnational personnel, and provide Chinese citizens a solid guarantee when traveling abroad.
The certificate, available in both digital and paper forms, is "leading the world" in plans for the so-called vaccine passports, AFP reported.
A sample of Chinese international travel health certificate. /CMG
Can foreign students return to China with the health certificate for international travelers?
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian emphasized that the Chinese version of the health certificate for international travelers is a document issued to Chinese personnel who have conducted nucleic acid tests or got inoculated with Chinese vaccines. Mutual recognition means mutual confirmation of the effectiveness of the tests or vaccination. On this basis, the two sides can provide convenience for relevant personnel.
Regarding the foreign students' return to China for their studies, Zhao said that the Chinese government attaches high importance to protecting the rights and interests of foreign students in China. Academic institutions in China are required to keep in close contact with those students abroad, make good arrangements for online courses, and properly address their legitimate concerns and appeals. On the precondition of observing containment protocols, the Chinese authorities will study this matter in a coordinated manner and keep in communication with relevant parties.
Countries weighing launch of 'vaccine passport'
The European Union, Singapore, South Korea and other countries are looking into the idea of launching such a "passport," with the mutual recognition of vaccination at the core of mutual recognition of health codes among countries.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said on March 1 that the European Commission plans to launch an electronic vaccination passport later this month, when member states can decide whether to go ahead with the plan to recognize each other's vaccination.
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in February that the country is discussing the mutual recognition of vaccine certificates with other countries. Thailand is considering scrapping its 14-day quarantine for foreign visitors with proof of vaccination.
Greece has started issuing its citizens digital certificates after they get two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines.
The World Health Organization (WHO) supports electronic certification of COVID-19 vaccination, which allows for efficient and accurate recording of vaccination information and will have a number of positive effects, Katherine O'Brien, director of WHO's Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, said on Monday.
"China stands ready to discuss with other countries on establishing mutual recognition mechanisms for health codes information on the basis of accommodating each other's concerns and friendly consultations," said Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian the same day. "This will facilitate the issuance of visas, thus making cross-border travel much easier and contributing to the healthy, safe and orderly people-to-people exchanges."