Chinese Government Manipulated its Health App During Bank Runs

Angry bank customers who traveled to the Chinese city of Zhengzhou to retrieve their savings from troubled rural banks have been stopped by a health app on their cellphone amid a run on several banks.  The banks froze millions of dollars worth of deposits in April, telling customers they were upgrading their internal systems.  The banks have not issued any communication on the matter since, depositors said.

Chinese residents are required to have the health app, which displays a code indicating their health status, including possible exposure to COVID-19. A green code is required to use public transportation and to enter locations such as offices, restaurants, and malls. But some depositors at the banks in central Henan province said their codes were turned red to stop them.  When bank customers who then ignored their health app’s began to arrive at the banks were then greeted by large armed security squads.  Security forces injured dozens attempting to disperse the bank crowds.

The incident has started a national debate on how a tool designed for public health was appropriated by political forces to tamp down controversy.

The issue started in April, when customers found they could not access online banking services. They tried to report the banks and get their money back but didn't get replies.

Thousands of people who had opened accounts with the six rural banks in Henan and Anhui provinces began trying to withdraw their savings after media reports that the head of the banks' parent company was on the run. The majority shareholder of several of the banks, Sun Zhenfu, was wanted by authorities for “serious financial crimes,” according to the official media outlet The Paper.

Source: Rueters