Originally from Heilongjiang in northeastern China, 33-year-old Mr. Yu drove halfway across the country looking for news of his savings. At dawn on July 10, he joined hundreds of savers whose assets in four regional banks have been frozen since mid-April. In Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan in central China, they met in front of the local branch of the People’s Bank (the central bank). In videos shared on social media, banners are seen holding up, proclaiming in white on black: “No to the corruption and violence of the Henan government!” China’s dream of 400,000 families has been shattered. “

Just before noon, troops of hundreds of plainclothes men charged into the crowd, and Mr. Yu (gives only his last name) was beaten, then dragged onto a bus, with a bloody eye. “I put all the family savings in this bank: one million yuan [146 800 euros]. We can’t buy anything anymore. “sighs the man, released a few hours later.

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The mobilization has been underway since April 18, when customers of four banks in Henan province discovered they could no longer withdraw their money. On the bank application and in ATMs, a message indicates that the system is being updated. The central bank is launching an investigation, which involves a financial platform accused of owning “Funds raised illegally” on behalf of the four banks. Weeks go by, but the situation gets bogged down. At the end of June, the police announced several arrests: “The case involves old crimes, numerous suspects and a complex scenario”reads the police communiqué.

Not enough to appease savers, more and more are gathering to make their voices heard, a sign that the economic difficulties the country is experiencing may soon translate into the “social instability” so feared by Beijing. Because, behind the four plants involved, the situation of 4,000 rural banks is worrying, while the economy is weighed down by the zero Covid strategy and a latent real estate crisis. ” These lesser-known regional banks generally offer high interest to attract savers. They lend the money they raise to local governments, state-owned enterprises, but most of all to real estate developers, who take significant risks. Recently, there have been many insolvencies in the real estate sector “, explains Dan Wang, chief economist at Hong Kong bank Hang Seng.

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