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The Washington Post editorial board blasted the Chinese government Wednesday for cracking down on protesters who are demonstrating because they are unable to access their money from the bank. The editorial, titled “In China, they lost their shirts, then their right to protest,” criticized China’s leadership for this development.
“Try as they might, the world’s despots can never hide their fear of their own people. For all the bluster and displays of power, they panic at the sight of protests,” the board wrote. “Now comes a fresh example of vocal complaints being silenced, in China.”
Four rural Chinese banks froze their clients accounts due to the Chinese government’s COVID-19 policies and a mortgage crisis stemming from unfinished houses and the collapse of China’s top real estate companies, such as Evergrande.
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“Unable to retrieve their money, depositors started to protest online and in person. On May 23, protests broke out before security services stopped them. The leaders of China’s party-state system, obsessed with maintaining social ‘stability,’ reacted with alarm, ” the board noted.
“In June, many jilted depositors from around the country planned to converge on the capital of Henan province, Zhengzhou, in hopes of getting their money back. But before they could travel, they were blocked by software that the government uses to control the spread of covid,” they wrote, highlighting an alarming example of pandemic tracking measures being used to control the population.
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“The green code on their phones turned red. They could not travel,” the board continued.
When protesters eventually did show up at the People’s Bank of China in Zhengzou, they brought signs that said, “The Chinese dreams of 400,000 depositors in Henan have been shattered” and “No deposits. No human rights.”
The editorial noted that the protesters were met by police and large men in white shirts who attacked the crowd. When the men in white shirts attacked the protesters, the police did nothing.
“Protesters were dragged down a flight of steps before being carried away. Some were loaded onto buses, bruised from the clashes,” they wrote. “According to Reuters, Chinese censors have been blocking protest messages online and deleting videos of demonstrations.”
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“Just another day in the life of what China’s government boasts is a ‘democracy that works,'” the board wrote.
“What does not work is freedom to speak, to assemble, to protest or to change the leadership. Even something as straightforward as a legitimate protest over lost deposits ends with beatings, bruises and arrests,” the editorial concluded.