After several bank clients in the Henan and Anhui provinces of central China protested the freezing of their accounts, financial officials in those provinces committed to returning some of their deposits.
Taiwan's TAIPEI (AP) — After a Sunday protest over their frozen accounts descended into violence, financial watchdogs in the central Chinese provinces of Henan and Anhui offered to return certain bank customers' savings in part.
Officials announced late Monday that clients with deposits of 50,000 yuan or less (about $7,400) would receive a refund. Others with greater bank accounts, they claimed, will receive their money returned at a later, undisclosed time.
Because irate depositors who attempted to travel to Zhengzhou in Henan to seek their money back from the six financially challenged rural banks were prevented from doing so by a health app on their iPhones, the bank demonstrations attracted significant media attention. They had their greatest protest yet on Sunday, which police and plainclothes security violently dispersed.
The thousands of people who opened accounts at the banks in Henan and the nearby province of Anhui, which offered comparatively high-interest rates, include the demonstrators. After media rumors that the CEO of the bank's parent business was wanted for financial offenses, customers later discovered that they couldn't make withdrawals.
Customers who have been organizing rallies online and offline since April to get their money back reacted skeptically to the regulators' announcement.
A bank customer who abstained from Sunday's demonstration, Xu Zhihao, claimed that "this does not genuinely fix the problem."
Although the central bank of China, the People's Bank of China, insures customer deposits up to 500,000 yuan ($74,000), some people's losses may exceed that amount.
One demonstrator, who only supplied her last name, Ding, claimed that she and her mother had 800,000 yuan ($119,000) in savings deposits spread across several banks.
"They announced this as a result of our risking our lives. We are not owed the less than 50,000 yuan that has been given. It's more of payment to maintain social order, said Ding, who chose not to use her full name for fear of retaliation. She claimed that while several people were hurt on Sunday during a rally, she and her husband were struck by security personnel in plainclothes.
Although most of the injuries were cuts or scrapes, some demonstrators told the AP that some people were sent to the hospital after being harmed when police and plainclothes security officials used force to disperse the protesters.
Due to offers of higher interest rates, such as five-year fixed deposit accounts offering an interest rate of slightly over 4%, the bank customers opened their accounts online through financial platforms like JD Digits, which is controlled by e-commerce giant JD.com.
They attempted to get in touch with the banks, the neighborhood Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, and the central bank after realizing they couldn't withdraw their money.
When that failed, they made plans to demonstrate at the Zhengzhou regional office of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission. The demonstration on Sunday attracted the most participants so far, numbering hundreds.
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