China squeezes Cambodia for its Covid app data

China seeks access to Cambodia's contact tracing data for reasons that are more likely about spying than disease control.

When Cambodia’s post and communications and health ministries initiated in February a so-called “Stop Covid-19” QR code contact tracing app system to prevent the spread of the lethal virus, rights groups immediately rang the alarm.

In an April 6 report, US rights lobby group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the system raises serious privacy concerns, is overly intrusive, and that its stepped-up surveillance of the Cambodian population would ultimately put “government critics and activists at greater risk.”

However, what HRW didn’t foresee was the China factor. Shortly after the official announcement of the “Stop Covid-19” app’s launch, Wang Wentian, the Chinese ambassador to Phnom Penh, met with Cambodian officials and requested access to the personal data collected via the new system, according to sources familiar with the request.

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