Thousands of disgruntled investors besieged the headquarters of the world’s most indebted property developer in China to demand repayment of loans and financial products on Sept. 13.
Evergrande first warned in August of liquidity and default risks if it fails to raise cash and resume construction.
On Sept. 8, investors found the company had suspended payments to its wealth management products, raising panic among investors who have been protesting since last Friday, fearing their money will all be lost.
Simultaneous rallies then emerged in major Chinese cities including Shenzhen, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Mianyang, and Handan.
“Return our hard-earned money,” most slogans read, also called out by crowds. Videos circulated on social media show that the local government mobilized a large volume of the police force to monitor attendees.
“We just arrived at the entrance and were beaten by security guards with batons,” a protester in Handan told The Epoch Times on Monday. “Five of them beat one of us.”
Protesters started to take video recordings on their phones and came under pressure from the police.
“[The police] took my phone away and shocked me with an electric baton, threatening that I would die for not deleting the video,” said the Handan protester.
“I dare not tell you too much,” he said.
An ambulance took an overemotional protester in Zhengzhou away from the scene, witnessed by crowds.
A victim said 70 percent of the investors come from owners of Evergrande real estate, while the rest are the company’s staff. The Epoch Times is unable to verify the number.
Zhang (pseudonym), a family member of an Evergrande employee, told The Epoch Times last Friday that her husband is one of up to 100,000 staff who had purchased the financial products, along with their families, friends, and customers who were encouraged to invest.
“How can one live his future life after having fooled everyone he knows?” Zhang said, adding that people around her husband all invested over 600,000 yuan ($93,000) in those products. “It is scary, really terrifying,” she said.
The government-backed promotion had also raised confidence for investors.
“I do not believe that the regulatory government has no responsibility at all,” investor Lao Zhang (pseudonym) said, after watching promotions on CCTV and official channels. “I saw the advertisement every day,” he said.
However, China’s state-run media have downplayed the debt crisis.
By Monday evening, Evergrande denied rumors of its bankruptcy and reorganization. The company’s mid-year report shows it has 778 projects across 223 cities in China as of June 30, 2021.