The city of Hami (Kumul) set up a secure Party-controlled communications circuit last August to transmit COVID data under emergency conditions. You’ve got to wonder why.

Here’s what happened.

During a reported rise in COVID-19 cases in Xinjiang last August, the China Telecom subsidiary Xinjiang Telecom supported an “emergency response mechanism” for COVID prevention and control in the city of Hami. Xinjiang Telecom’s role was, in part, to support the urgent installation of a new optical fiber-based communications circuit at the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps 13th Division in that city.

The circuit was specifically installed inside the Confidential Bureau (where classified material and secure communications are managed) located at the Division’s (Communist) Party School.

The installation team noted that the “security requirement” for the confidential circuit was “very high” and the need “urgent.”

The team began work at night with its progress slowed by the need to transport construction materials through a “risky community” in Hami.

After a new optical cable was installed, the installation team worked until 2:00 a.m. to test and debug the circuit for the “customer.”

So, we must ask ourselves, why was such high security required in Hami to transmit COVID data? 

Or was this standard procedure, and confidential party circuits were (are) used nationwide to transmit COVID data?

Either way, the use of confidential party circuits challenges any notion of openness in the sharing COVID data, at least for me.

Finally, this is one lens (on the far negative side) to help us understand how the “Digital China” national strategy plays out at the “tactical” level, this time in, yep you guessed it, “Digital Xinjiang.”

Over the following weeks and months, you’ll see all the sides.