China: Authorities to repay bank scam victims after violent protests

Authorities in China’s Henan province have reportedly come out and reassured citizens that they will be releasing money to customers whose funds were frozen by rural banks. The move supposedly comes a day after a mass protest broke out in the capital city Zhengzhou, which later turned violent.

For the uninitiated, local banks, including Shangcai Huimin County Bank, New Oriental Country Bank of Kaifeng, Yuzhou Xin Min Sheng Village Bank, and Zhecheng Huanghuai Community Bank, are believed to have frozen deposits worth CN¥39 billion ($5.8 billion) belonging to their customers in April.

After massive protests broke out against the move, the Henan Provincial Local Financial Supervision Bureau and the Henan Banking and Insurance Regulatory Bureau have come out and announced their plans of repaying customers with the help of a local association administered by the country’s central bank.

Authorities stated that an advance payment will be made to customers that have less than CN¥50,000 ($74,350) savings in a single institution. Further adding that if the total amount is over that figure, the payments will be made consecutively, details of which will be announced separately.

The announcement, however, was met with sharp criticism by social media users in the country.

On Weibo, which is one of the country’s leading social networking platforms, one user posted that the statement offers no clarity on how authorities plan to release their savings, while another posted that instead of the advance payment, they want the right of freedom to withdraw and save their money.

For the record, the protest in question occurred on Sunday, 10th July, where people took to the streets over the frozen deposits in the city. Things soon turned violent after there was a conflict between a group of unidentified men, suspected to be security personnel dressed in plain clothes.

Videos have been shared on social media where the unidentified men are shoving the demonstrators and throwing water bottles at them.

The protestors claimed that their deposits had been frozen in April due to certain ‘upgrades’ to the banks’ internal systems. They added that the banks in question have not contacted them or communicated in any other manner ever since.

Many customers then traveled to the city to try and withdraw their money since then. Several small protests also took place in the city as a result, with a large demonstration held in May requiring the police to intervene and shut things down.

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