By Jesus Centeno
Beijing, Jun 17 (EFE).- Health authorities in the Chinese county of Jinxiu, north of the capital, are issuing a reward of up to 10,000 yuan ($1,492) to residents who report suspected Covid-19 infections.
Jinxiu authorities, in the northern Hebei province, announced a “punishment and reward system” for residents who reported visitors who had not alerted the authorities of their arrival to the town, which is mandatory under current coronavirus rules in the region.
“Whoever gives clues to the Government of suspicious infections that are finally confirmed as positive cases, will receive a reward of 10,000 yuan,” one of the circulars from the local authorities read.
The announcement urged citizens to report anyone who should be in isolation or who had entered the county without alerting authorities or a valid QR code.
The statement further suggests residents should monitor security personnel, condo gatekeepers, doctors, pharmacists and officials, as well as reporting wedding and funeral events that have not been authorized.
REWARDS FOR TIP-OFFS
In Chendai, a village in the southeastern province of Fujian, Mr. Xie pocketed 5,000 yuan for reporting his neighbor Huang, who traveled to the town from Foshan in the neighboring Guangdong province by car without alerting authorities.
“There was a risk of transmission and it is our responsibility, our obligation, to provide clues to protect ourselves and others,” Xie was quoted as saying by local media. “The awards will inspire the rest to do the same to guarantee the achievements made in the fight against the pandemic.”
According to several local Chinese governments, those who flout Covid rules must be held accountable with prison terms of up to three years for those who “in violation of the regulations imposed by the health departments, cause the transmission of an infectious virus.”
Citizens who hide travel itineraries can also face “up to 10 days of administrative detention,” a legal expert, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Efe.
Residents are also being rewarded for “cooperating with the authorities”, such as Mr. Wang who had his quarantine paid for him after he alerted Chendai authorities that he was returning to the town on a train from the eastern province of Jiangsu, then considered a risk area.
There is a risk of “false accusations” being made and as such officials demand “authenticity” from informants.
Those who denounce others in a “malicious” way are investigated and punished, as happened in April to a resident of eastern Shandong who reported – allegedly erroneously – positive cases at the company he worked for, Huajian Aluminum Industrial Group.
The informant was diagnosed with “hallucinations, depression and anxiety”.
A spokesman for Amnesty International told Efe that it is not uncommon for the Chinese administration to reward whistleblowing.
“This new cash reward measure seems to be a city/county-level government initiative at this stage,” the spokesperson said.
“To implement public health measures that are in line with human rights, the Chinese government must ensure that the reporting mechanism is not misused and has a limited scope and timeframe,” the AI official added. “The government should also demonstrate how the measure of providing cash reward aligns with the most up-to-date science and human rights standards.”
China has been dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks for over three months which has plunged many cities into strict lockdowns under Beijing’s zero Covid policy.