China Begins To Roll Out Its Own COVID Vaccine Passport

China is rolling out an international COVID-19 vaccine passport they hope will get global recognition and open up travel again. The vaccination passport is available in hardcopy and digital formats to Chinese citizens. The Chinese Government is also keen for other countries to get onboard. But whether China’s vaccination certificate flies is a whole other matter.

China is rolling of COVID vaccination passports for its citizens. Photo: Getty Images

Chinese vaccination passport available for download via WeChat

Speaking at a weekend press conference, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi confirmed the passport’s rollout. According to China’s The Global Times, the Minister says the vaccination passport will contain details of a person’s inoculation, nucleic acid testing, and antibody results. Minister Yi said China wants travel to resume “in a safe and orderly way.”

The digital version of China’s vaccination passport is now available via the Chinese social media platform WeChat. Currently, the vaccination passport is only available to Chinese citizens, but China is open to discussing mutual recognition mechanisms with other countries.

Just how many countries will recognize China’s vaccination passport is an interesting question. There’s a lot at stake for China. The country is scheduled to host the Winter Olympic Games in February 2022.

Normally, this would prove a bonanza for China’s airlines. But the rollout of the COVID vaccine in China has been slow, and the country remains closed to most travelers. Those that are permitted land must complete a two-week quarantine period.

China has a lot riding on the success of its 2022 Winter Olympics. Photo: Getty Images

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China’s airlines continue to struggle

It has been more than a year since COVID emerged from China, and the country’s airlines continue to struggle. Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines carried 6,071,610 passengers in January 2021, a 46.87% decline from the previous January’s numbers. Of those 6,071,610 passengers, just 614,400 were on international flights.

Rival Air China flew 4,429,500 passengers in January 2021. That’s a 51.8% decline against the previous January. Just 300,000, or 6.7% of overall passengers, boarded an Air China international flight in January 2021. The numbers are equally bleak at other big Chinese airlines like China Eastern, Shenzhen Airlines, and embattled Hainan Airlines.

Along with the Chinese Government, these airlines have a vested interest in the 2022 Winter Olympic succeeding. But much of that success appears to hinge on the widespread vaccine rollout in China along with widespread recognition of different vaccination certificates.

Passenger numbers across China’s airlines continue to be way off pre-pandemic levels. Photo: Getty Images

There’s a clear need for just one or two widespread vaccination passports

Subhas Menon, Director General at the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines, has previously said the world needs just one health passport solution. He says industries and governments have been pouring resources into developing digital vaccination passports, all basically doing the same thing. Mr Menon says there needs to be a framework for a consistent and coherent approach to vaccination passports.

Ultimately not all will gain traction or international recognition. There will be consolidation. Until then, it’s a race for widespread acceptance.

Will China’s new vaccination passport be one of those that gain widespread acceptance? China and its airlines will certainly be hoping so. In a statement published in Chinese media, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said China was;

“… actively advancing international recognition of the health certificate and has provided specific ideas, technological plans and the public key to foreign countries through diplomatic channels”.

What do you think the chances of China’s vaccination passport taking off are? Do you think many countries will recognize it? Post a comment and let us know