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China crushes peaceful protest by depositors seeking their life savings back

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(TibetanReview.net, Jul12’22) – Chinese authorities were reported to have crushed on Jul 10 a peaceful protest by hundreds of depositors who demanded their life savings back from banks that had run into a deepening cash crisis, leaving citizens with no avenues to express their grievances. The demonstrators alleged collusion between banks and corrupt officials behind the prolonged crisis.

They marched in protest against alleged corruption by local officials in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, the AFP Jul 11 cited multiple participants as saying. Public protests are as rare as they are not allowed in China which employs artificial intelligence to keep ever tightening control over the population.

Four banks in Henan province had since mid-April frozen all cash withdrawals, leaving thousands of small savers without funds and sparking sporadic demonstrations. The protest on Jul 10 was the largest yet, with several hundred people rallying in front of a branch of the People’s Bank of China in the Henan capital Zhengzhou, the report said, citing multiple witnesses who declined to be named.

Images circulating on social media were reported to show banners denouncing “the corruption and violence of the Henan authorities”.

Protesters were “hit, wounded and were bleeding from the head. Disabled people were also violently beaten,” the report quoted a participant as saying, estimating the number of demonstrators to have been “several thousand”.

China crushes peaceful protest by depositors seeking their life savings back. (Photo courtesy: CNN)

The face-off was reported to have lasted for several hours until rows of security officers suddenly charged up the stairs and confronted the protesters head-on.

Demonstrators have accused officials of colluding with local banks to suppress protests. Last month, the authorities were accused of exploiting the Covid health pass to quell further protests, turning protesters’ passes red to bar them from public spaces.

The health pass is an ubiquitous part of life in China under Beijing’s strict Covid-zero strategy, and is required to access the vast majority of buildings, shopping centres, public places and also certain public transport.

While most people are said to accept use of the technology for public health purposes, it could and, indeed, has been used for surveillance of the population, as during the current crisis.

Demonstrations are relatively rare in tightly-controlled China, where social stability is an official obsession and where opposition is swiftly repressed, the report noted.

This is arguably one of China’s largest financial scandals, involving billions of yuan worth of deposits – comprising the savings of thousands of people – frozen in rural banks, noted the scmp.com Jul 11.

Deposits at Yuzhou Xinminsheng Village Bank, Shangcai Huimin County Bank, Zhecheng Huanghuai Community Bank and New Oriental Country Bank of Kaifeng have been frozen since Apr 18, sparking a number of protests in Zhengzhou, Henan’s capital, the report said.

Xuchang Public Security Bureau in Henan have said their investigation into the crisis revealed that a criminal gang led by a suspect named Lu Yi had used the Henan Xincaifu Group to gain effective control over several rural banks, leading to the current crisis.

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