It was an unusual gesture against China’s leaders. Affected by the economic slowdown, four banks in Henan province have froze all withdrawals since mid-April, leaving thousands of small depositors in limbo. The situation has since sparked sporadic demonstrations.
To prevent new rallies, local authorities were suspected of turning some protesters’ health passes red last month, banning all activities.
Hundreds of people demonstrated on Sunday, July 10, in front of a branch of China’s central bank in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, according to several participants who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.Photos posted on social media show banners condemning “Corruption and Violence by Henan Authorities”.
In the video, whose content was not independently verified by AFP, demonstrators were violently arrested by plainclothes agents. Some protesters had swollen faces.Participants are “Beatened, wounded, bleeding in the head. Disabled people were even beaten”one of them said.
Tracking via Health Pass
There was no immediate response from local authorities. Demonstrations are relatively rare in China, where maintaining social stability is an obsession, and power usually nips any protest in the bud. However, out of desperation, some Chinese did not hesitate to take to the streets despite the risk of arrest and prosecution.
In the past month, Henan authorities have come under fire for allegedly manipulating health passes, aimed at preventing further protests. In China, a health pass is required to enter most buildings, shopping malls, public places, and certain modes of transportation.
The vast majority of Chinese are willing to play the tracking game for health purposes, but there are concerns that the tool could be used for surveillance purposes. Like the four banks in Henan, other institutions in other parts of China are in fragile financial positions, which are exacerbated by corruption, analysts said.