Henan: China to repay customers after mass bank protests

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    Authorities in the Henan province of China have announced that they will begin releasing money to consumers whose funds have been frozen by several rural banks.

    The declaration was made the day after a rare demonstration in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan, descended into violence.

    According to regional regulators, payments will start to be made in phases on Friday.

    A total of 39 billion yuan ($5.8 billion; £4.9 billion) in deposits are thought to have been frozen by the four banks that were the focus of the protests.

    In a statement on Monday, the Henan Banking and Insurance Regulatory Bureau and the Henan Provincial-Local Financial Supervision Bureau laid out the strategies for paying clients through a neighbourhood association under the supervision of the People’s Bank of China.

    Customers were encouraged to contact the association starting at 9:00 local time (02:00 BST) on Friday, according to the authorities.

    However, some Chinese social media users have criticised the announcement.

    A demonstration against the frozen deposits that was attended by hundreds of people on Sunday in Zhengzhou, the city of Henan, got violent following an altercation with an unidentified group of men.

    The protesters claimed that the banks had frozen their deposits in April due to alleged internal system updates but had not contacted them since.

    Social media videos showed a group of unidentified males assaulting demonstrators and hurling water bottles at them while appearing to be security officers but wearing plain clothes.

    The deposits of their clients were frozen in April by the Yuzhou Xin Min Sheng Village Bank, Shanghai Huimin County Bank, and New Oriental Country Bank of Kaifeng.

    Since then, countless clients have travelled to Zhengzhou to withdraw their money.

    Small demonstrations began, building to a sizable rally on May 23, when thousands participated before police broke it up.

    The COVID-19 tracking app, which is required in many Chinese cities for citizens to enter buildings and stores, use public transportation, or exit the city, has been reported to have problems by certain bank customers who had just visited Zhengzhou.