Peter Wang was asleep at his home in Beijing last Monday when police officers arrived before dawn to detain him, saying he had helped organise a protest planned for later that day.
Across the city, others who had lost money investing in China’s online peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms – including some who had travelled from as far away as Shandong and Shanxi provinces – got similar visits from police.
By the time they were released, the demonstration they had planned using social media chat groups had fizzled amid a massive security response around the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) headquarters in the heart of Beijing’s financial district.
Instead of demanding that the government bail out the hundreds of collapsed P2P companies, those who made it to the protest area were forced onto buses and carted away to Jiujingzhuang, a holding centre for petitioners on the outskirts of Beijing, according to two P2P investors.
“Once the police checked your ID…