SHANGHAI (Reuters) – A protest planned by hundreds of bank depositors in central China seeking access to their frozen funds has been thwarted because the authorities have turned their health code apps red, several depositors told Reuters.
The depositors were planning to travel to the central province of Henan this week from across China to protest against an almost two-month block on accessing at least $178 million of deposits, which has left companies unable to pay workers and individuals unable to access savings.
Rights groups have warned China could use its vast COVID surveillance infrastructure to stifle dissent. Without a green code on their smartphone app, citizens lose access to public transport and spaces such as restaurants and malls, as well as the right to travel across the country.
“They are putting digital handcuffs on us,” said a depositor from Sichuan province surnamed Chen, who declined to use his full name for fear of government retribution.