Protests have long been banned in mainland China. But in recent days, many Chinese have stood up for their rights.
The earliest protest was in Henan after four rural commercial banks suddenly froze all deposits in mid-April. They advised customers that they were upgrading internal systems. These lenders include Yuzhou Xinmin Sheng Village Bank, Shangcai Huimin Village Bank, Zhecheng Huanghuai Community Bank, and Kaifeng New Oriental Rural Bank.
The four banks collectively involve nearly one million depositors and tens of billions of yuan in deposits.
A Chinese social media user revealed on May 22 that depositors could not withdraw money from several banks in Henan for 35 days.
They don’t know how to appeal to the banks. As a result, people gather to ask for the protection of their legal rights.
A crowd of depositors gathers, holding cards with the words: Henan Bank pays my deposit back. They are also singing the song- March of the Volunteers in unison.
A man reads a slogan, and others chant. They are asking the government to restore the freedom of withdrawals for depositors.
A group of financial refugees holding placards to protest in front of police in the street. They ask the government to deal with the issues and help protect their rights.
Other placards explain the situation: Four banks in Henan – ban depositors from withdrawing their savings.
On May 18, the Central bank and the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said that a shareholder of the four village banks is Henan New Fortune Group. Using third-party platforms and fund brokers, it illegally absorbed public funds through internal and external collaboration.
That group is suspected of crimes, and the public security agencies have opened an investigation. They claimed that all related businesses in the four involved banks are “protected by law” and that deposit and withdrawal services are performed as usual.
However, some victims believe this statement was released to ease public anger. The relevant agencies are shirking their responsibilities and do not want to solve the problem, and those people not living locally cannot withdraw money.
The banks in Henan have changed their statements several times. At first, they said there was system maintenance; then they said there were frauds, followed by a statement that there were economic crimes.
Some even kneel in the street.
Then the police arrived.
Many police officers are confronting a crowd of protesters holding Chinese flags and placards.
A demonstrator said the police cars followed the crowd the whole time.
At noon, protestors arrived near the Henan Provincial Government. The police cleared all the streets, established martial law on the ground, and blocked people in the middle circle.
According to the news from the scene, the police forcibly deleted the photos and ID cards. They also forced people to sign the pledge. If the protestors don’t sign, they will be taken away and sent to the station to buy a ticket and forcibly repatriated.
Then, a group of plainclothes stormed in to arrest the protesters.
And even uniformed police arrested the protesters.
Police use chili spray on unarmed citizens, so they are temporarily blinded and forcibly put in handcuffs.
In the same situation as Henan, people in Tangshan are so desperate that they kneel in the streets to express their grievances.
Residents said that the Tangshan government allegedly misappropriated 480 million yuan or over 70 million dollars of residential construction supervision funds. The project was suspended from February this year because no funds were left. One thousand three hundred eighty-four homeowners become homeless, and the issue has not been resolved. They also post many pictures and videos on Weibo as proof.
But by June 15, topics related to the incident had been deleted from Weibo, and entries had been removed from the hot search list.
However, a video posted on the Internet showed that people were suppressed, and an older man was dragged into a police car by the police. The police also demanded the video be deleted, or the person who recorded the scene would be arrested.
And one popular post on Twitter said, “Hundreds of people in Tangshan knelt and petitioned not to mention hot searches, [but] the topic was banned, and the video was deleted.” The post added that some people regarded Weibo as a court of law because the social media network decided to deliver the final justice on specific topics.
However, the Chinese also found that, in many cases, their voice on Weibo is quickly silenced, as in the above case. So they have bypassed the firewall to be heard.
Why do they have to bypass the firewall? Some viewers may already know that mainland Chinese are not allowed to use western social media.
But many Chinese people have used Virtual private networks to access Twitter to post sensitive events about the Chinese government.
A video circulated on Twitter on June 16 shows many teachers standing at a schoolyard in Yantai city.
They chanted, “Same pay, same class, no drop, no withdrawal.”
The reason for the protest was revealed in a letter sent to students’ parents. It said that Yantai authorities required school teachers to pay back about 50,000 to 100,000 yuan (7,000 to 15,000 dollars) of the salaries already paid to them. They also reduced teachers’ wages to what they were more than ten years ago.
The letter wrote that when the teachers asked for the authorized document, local officials responded that they could only inform about the matter verbally. The teachers complained in the letter that their work performance evaluations were not transparently disclosed. Although the city is classified as a development zone, the teachers said they are classified as workers in a municipal area. The city authorities also turned down their request to have a meeting on the matter.
Many teachers face hardship as they don’t make enough money to maintain their daily lives. In addition, high housing prices contribute to the problems.
Part of the letter reads, “We don’t want to stop teaching for a minute, but all the efforts we have tried have been to no avail. We are not afraid of poverty. We are not afraid of hardship. We really cannot stand to be in a situation where we will always be bullied and being profited from.”
Someone then sent the police to the scene of the protest.
A man said that these are all the police cars in Yantai City! The explosion-proof team and the armed police have all been transferred over.
Then the police began making arrests.
Most of the protests in China are like that, starting with a peaceful demonstration by the people and ending with police arresting protestors.