Zhengzhou city recently announced the punishment of five individuals over the red health codes slammed on depositors who were already dismayed over blocked withdrawals. Still, experts are dissatisfied with how the saga turned out.

On June 22, the local anti-graft authority of Zhengzhou, capital of central Henan province, announced that four officials and one state-own enterprise manager had been punished over the incident.

The notice said Deputy Party Secretary of the city’s Political and Legal Commission, Feng Xianbin, and the city’s top leader of the Youth League, Zhang Linlin, were those who decided to slam red health codes on depositors. They instructed three pandemic officials—Zhao Yong, Chen Chong, and Yang Yaohuan to carry out the order. 

Feng Xianbin was dismissed from party positions and government affairs. Zhang Linlin was strictly warned and demoted from government affairs, and Chen Chong and Zhao Yong received major demerits in government affairs. 

Ren Quanniu, a legal person in Henan, told Radio Free Asia that this was just a light penalty.

He said the officials’ actions were a severe abuse of power, and light punishment was inadequate. They should be held criminally responsible. Ren thinks that the department was only responding to the issue internally, which was still an act of official protection.

Zeng Weifeng, an assistant professor at the Mainland China Institute of Tamkang University in Taiwan, believed that the government was only issuing the punishment to ease public outrage. 

Zeng supposed that the central government does not want the public to link the local officials’ behaviors to theirs. But the lack of heavier penalties means the government may not necessarily think their actions were terrible, and it was just that the media was onto it, and people were angry.

Current affairs commentator Tang Jingyuan noted on Foresight Jingyuan Tang that none of the five individuals charged for the red health code saga have a direct relationship with the banking and financial system. He commented that the authorities were using soft power.

What Tang said refers to a finding by First Financial that online transaction systems of rural banks were manipulated and used by Henan New Fortune Group. Lu Mou, also known as Lu Yi, was in control of the enterprise.

The outlet cited from Xuchang City Public Security Bureau that he was a criminal gang leader. He has been suspected of using regional banks to commit serious crimes since 2011.

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.