How the Chinese Health Codes turn yellow?

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: China

Publishing organisation: The Paper

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 2022-01-18

Language: Chinese

Authors: Shu Yier, Zhao Zuoyan, Wei Yao, Xu Xinyuan


Data collection: Shu Yier, Zhao Zuoyan, Xu Xinyuan
Data analysis: Shu Yier, Zhao Zuoyan
Write: Shu Yier, Zhao Zuoyan
Design: Wei Yao

Project description:

In 2022, a Chinese resident’s travel relies on a small QR code- the health code, issued by the authorities during COVID-19. Only with a green health code can people freely walk around. Otherwise, it will turn yellow if the code owner is regarded as having a risk of infection. But the criteria for risk judgment is not that clear. Based on 31 provinces’ official documents and web-scraped netizens’ discussions, we clearly explain in what kind of situation the code will turn yellow- while some could be unreasonable- and what needs to be done after receiving a yellow code.

Impact reached:

On the website and social media, the story resonated with a large number of netizens, as many people also encountered the dilemma of the health code suddenly turning yellow. The story fundamentally helps readers have a better understanding of the health code system.

Techniques/technologies used:

Web scraping to collect netizens’ complaints
Adobe Illustrator to design

Context about the project:

It is not clear why a health code turns yellow, and different provinces have their own policies, leading to discussions on the net. The unclear code-issuing system hugely affects every ordinary Chinese citizen. The data-driven story is the first one to clearly explain the Chinese influential code-issuing system in detail. Besides, there are also some new findings: the most common reason for issuing a yellow health code is the health information is not exchanged through different provinces- which means, if you hold a green code in province A and you want to travel to province B, you may be issued a yellow code, because the authorities in province B do not have enough information about your situation.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

1.From the readers’ perspective, think about what your readers want to know, and then you will have a questions list.
2.Try to use data and follow the data to answer the questions above.

Project links: