Recently, many rural banks in Henan, China have not allowed depositors to withdraw money, which has caused a public protest to demand protection of their interests on a large scale. According to a number of videos posted online, the Zhengzhou government sent a large number of policemen in both uniform and plain clothes to arrest people, then force the protesters to write “pledges” before releasing them in the wasteland, where they are unable to contact their family. 

On May 22, as four banks in Henan did not allow people to withdraw their bank deposits, outraged depositors gathered at the main gate of the Henan Banking and Insurance Administration/ Henan Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission to protest. At the scene, the protesters sometimes cried, sometimes shouted slogans, sometimes in unison, they sang the “March of the Volunteers” which is the national anthem of the People’s Republic of China. The scene looked chaotic. 

As NTDTV reported, Yang Huajun, deputy director of the Henan Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, held up a loudspeaker to promise protesters that “legitimate deposits will be secured”, including sums of deposits made through “illegal third-party platforms”, which also counts as legitimate deposits because people are unaware of the situation. But “it takes a while” for the government to solve the problem and so on. However, many citizens completely do not believe the government’s statement, which they believed to be made just to reassure people, and they constantly raise questions regarding this. 

After that, a video footage showed that, under the surveillance of a large number of plainclothes police outside, many young people wearing masks and plain clothes suddenly rushed in to knock down the rights defenders and tried to provoke people. The rights defenders constantly shouted “undercover police, undercover police”. 

Many pictures posted on the Internet show these “undercover police” in turn restraining those rights defenders, pulling them out of the protest site and dragging them onto buses. 

NTDTV posted screenshots of news on Chinese social media saying that the defenders were taken to the Qinglong mansion in the suburbs of Zhengzhou. Officials have “visited” but did not give substantive answers. Next, those detained at Qinglong Mansion were forced to write “Affidavit”/ “commitment letters”. 

Officials promised that rights defenders would be sent to the bus station and forcibly sent back to their hometown after their “commitment letters”. But in reality, after all these people were forced to sign “commitment letters”, they were “thrown” into the wasteland outside the villa. No one came to visit them. 

At night, many netizens called for help, saying that their family members were trapped in Qinglong Mansion and could not be contacted. The family cried and called the police, but they denied to help.

The news sparked heated discussions on Weibo and other social media platforms. According to NTDTV, many local netizens have berated Henan officials, criticizing them for using such rogue and cunning tricks to deal with the poor residents who just want their bank deposits back. 

According to the news on the mainland, that afternoon, a number of departments in Henan held a meeting with the public to do the so-called “sincere talk” with some representatives of the rights defenders, and commit to “create a group to swap”.

However, some netizens who understood the situation said: “If the government does not make an official announcement, it will be nothing, because the meeting process is not recorded. If the Henan authorities later do not admit it, who will they find?” Some people say: creating a group to choose the representative to connect is deceiful, this is only a plan to settle things down temporarily, they don’t even mention when to open the accounts which is the most important thing.”

The Aboluowang channel cited some of the comments made by Chinese people on Weibo as follows.

Netizen “XiaoMa 201909” revealed: “Seeing (online) topics get blocked one after another, it’s really disappointing. Is this 2022? Why in such a flourishing country, depositors are not respected but have to protest to protect their basic rights? It’s heartbreaking.”

Another angry netizen said: “Suppressing people like that, Henan is really evil, resolutely fighting them to the end!”

Rural banks in China are essentially rural. The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission stipulated in January 2007 that “the largest shareholder or the sole shareholder of a rural bank should be a financial institution in the banking industry”. The new 2013 regulation stipulated that “there should be at least one banking and financial institution among the founders”, according to the Epoch Times.

4 rural banks in Henan have not been able to withdraw normally for more than a month now, however, the official information that depositors have been waiting for days is: Henan New Wealth Group, the major shareholder of the bank is involved in the illegal act of soliciting capital from the public. Related documents show that these banks have nearly 1 million customers with deposits of tens of billions of yuan.

According to the Epoch Times, on April 18, depositors of the 4 rural banks in Henan Province suddenly found that they could no longer withdraw their money normally. On April 18 and 19, Yuzhou Xinminsheng Rural Bank and many other banks announced that “the system is undergoing maintenance upgrade”, and “online banking and mobile banking will be suspended”.

On April 25, the official website of the Xuchang city government responded that, in order to prevent the fraudulent behavior of criminals, the system is being upgraded and optimized. The Central Bank said that it is closely monitoring this matter, and the relevant departments have now launched an investigation.

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