Zhengzhou [China], July 14 (ANI): Amid large-scale protests in Henan province by bank depositors over the release of frozen funds, white-clothed men, who are suspected to be from the Chinese People's Armed Police Force, suppressed the protests in front of the Zhengzhou People's Bank of China (PBoC) office, local media reported.
Non-mainstream media believes that these white-clothed men can be personnel from the People's Armed Police or just plainclothes policemen. The media has posted images of the clothes worn by them and the item name is "Summer duty short-sleeve", manufactured in 2021.
By the name of the item, it appears that it was specially made for the personnel to use on such occasions. An image posted on Weibo, shows a policeman wearing this shirt during the Zhengzhou protests which further shows that these plain-clothed people included policemen.
It has been seen that people in white clothes were particularly violent towards the protesters. Various news reports highlight that protesters were harassed by the local police and their Wechats were also frozen after returning to their homes.
Following protests by bank depositors that caught the eye of national and international media, Chinese authorities in the central Henan province have promised to start paying back funds which had been frozen.
Payments will be made in batches, with the first due on July 15, state media outlet Global Times reported citing the local banking and insurance regulator and financial regulatory bureau of Henan province said in a joint statement.
This development comes after China on Sunday dispersed a protest by hundreds of depositors, who sought to demand their money back from banks that have run into a deepening cash crisis.
Four rural banks in China's Henan province have frozen millions of dollars worth of deposits since April, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of customers in an economy already affected by Covid lockdowns.
Hundreds of depositors have staged several demonstrations in the city of Zhengzhou, the provincial capital of Henan, but their demands are being ignored by the Chinese authorities, CNN reported.
On Sunday, more than 1,000 depositors gathered outside the Zhengzhou branch of the country's central bank, the People's Bank of China, to launch their largest protest yet.
The local government used plain clothes to suppress the protest. This was the depositors' 4th protest which is likely to continue until central and local governments reached an agreement on who pays how much share.
"I did not expect them to be so violent and shameless this time. There was no communication, no warning before they brutally dispersed us," said one depositor from a metropolis outside Henan who had protested in Zhengzhou previously, and who requested CNN conceal his name due to security concerns.
"Why would government employees beat us up? We're only ordinary people asking for our deposits back, we did nothing wrong," the Shandong woman said.
With travel limited across China by various Covid restrictions on movement, the demonstration is among the largest China has seen since the pandemic,
Notably, protestors were seen using national flags to display patriotism, a common strategy for protesters in China. In a country where dissent is clamped down swiftly, the tactic is meant to show that their grievances are only against local governments and that they support and rely on the central government to seek redress.
"Against the corruption and violence of the Henan government," a banner written in English read.
A large portrait of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong was pasted on a pillar at the entrance of the bank. Across the street, hundreds of police and security personnel -- some in uniforms and others in plain clothes -- assembled and surrounded the site, as protesters shouted "gangsters" at them.
In a statement late Sunday, the local police said they recently arrested members of an "criminal gang," who were accused of effectively taking control over the Henan rural banks starting from 2011 -- by leveraging their shareholdings and "manipulating banks executives."
The police added the suspects were also accused of illegally transferring funds through fictitious loans, and that some of their funds had been seized. (ANI)