On Tencent’s WeChat platform, certain instant messaging groups used by people owed money by property giant China Evergrande Group to organize rallies and discuss claims have been restricted, according to group members.
Two WeChat users reported seeing the warning notice “limits have been placed on this group because it violates relevant rules and regulations” on Wednesday. A different image seen by Reuters corroborated similar wording.
Eight users across at least eight distinct groups, each with a membership of between 200 and 500 people, reported being unable to send new messages to the groups beginning Tuesday morning. According to three other users, the groups had been removed from their WeChat apps as well. Another two users reported that they were unable to access their groups as well.
At least two people said they received visits from police over their posts.
The government has a dilemma with Evergrande’s crisis, which is bogged down by $305 billion in debt and the midst of a liquidity crunch. Evergrande’s difficulties, which include missing a global bond coupon payment last week, have spooked global markets but garnered little publicity in official Chinese media, and Beijing has remained silent on the matter.
It wants to enforce financial discipline, but analysts say it is concerned about a dramatic collapse that may enrage local investors, suppliers, and homeowners. In response, angry homeowners and retail investors have staged protests in numerous cities in recent weeks, and many have taken to social media platforms such as WeChat, China’s most popular messaging app, to express their dissatisfaction.
On Wednesday, the Weibo platform included footage of angry creditors approaching Evergrande employees, as well as concerns against the property developer.