Has the Chinese government really used tanks to quell protesters in Henan province?

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A video of tanks in China went viral on July 18, 2022, with social media users claiming it shows the Chinese government cracking down on protesters in Henan over the ongoing banking scandals. However, the video was actually shot in the city of Rizhao, Shandong Province, and according to our sources, the tanks were used as part of military exercises.

If you only have a minute

  • Netizens, particularly in the Chinese-speaking world, shared video of tanks on the streets. They claim it shows the Chinese government is using military force to control protests in Henan province, where ongoing banking scandals have frozen customers’ compensation and deposits since April.
  • However, the video was actually shot in the city of Rizhao, Shandong Province.
  • We contacted a hotel on the same street where the video that told us the military activity was actually an exercise was filmed. In addition, the China Maritime Safety Administration issued a press release informing citizens that military exercises would be held from July 14 to 16.

Fact check in detail

Since April, customers of rural banks in China’s Henan and Anhui provinces have struggled to withdraw money. The finance group in charge of China’s rural banks, a type of bank outside the formal banking system designed to facilitate the economy in rural areas, has been accused of corruption. It was also reported that some customers’ life savings were involuntarily drained during the crisis.

Many of these people have taken their anger to the streets and protested in front of the banks to demand solutions and compensation.

This video (below), showing numerous tanks on a street, was first published on July 18 on Twitter and Facebook. Netizens claim it shows the Chinese government using military force to control ongoing protests in Henan province.


At the time of writing, the video has garnered nearly 6.2 million views on Twitter and is gaining traction on other social media as well.



Many Twitter users have drawn a parallel between the video and the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, when the Chinese government used tanks and other deadly weapons to silence citizens.

Screenshot of the tweet drawing a parallel between the video and the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. © Twitter/ @EricVldw
Screenshot of the tweet which reads:
Screenshot of the tweet that reads, “33 years have passed, the CCP is still the same CCP.” © Twitter/ @nanayafuki
Screenshot of the tweet that reads,
Screenshot of the tweet that reads, “So from now on we also need to remember July 19th to add June 4th…” © Twitter/ @XcwFinis
Screenshot of the tweet that reads,
Screenshot of the tweet that reads, “Feel the smell of June 4th!” © Twitter/ @ChloeBROGGIO

Fake interpretation of the event

After looking more closely at the videos, we found some evidence that the event did not take place in Henan.

In the clip we see a yellow glowing building. It is difficult to make out the words written on the building due to the low quality of the video.

Still, doing a reverse search (here’s how) we found a photo of the Hanting Hotel Rizhao Railway Station in Shandong Province (eight rows down in the search) and not a bank in Henan.

A screenshot of the building in the Baidu Map clip.
A screenshot of the building in the Baidu Map clip. © Observer

The date of this photo on the Baidu map is unknown, and the hotel’s appearance is slightly different from what we see in the video. Despite this, most of the building remains identical to that in the clip.

On the booking site Agoda we found a recent picture of the hotel which is identical to the building in the clip. It is therefore clear that the video was not shot in Henan Province but in Shandong.

Screenshot of the video.
Screenshot of the video. © Observer
Photo from the Hanting Hotel Rizhao Railway Station reservation page on Agoda.
Photo from the Hanting Hotel Rizhao Railway Station reservation page on Agoda. © Observer

What were the tanks used for?

Given that there is a naval base near the city of Rizhao, many believe the activity was a military exercise.

The France 24 Observers team contacted the community, who were reluctant to provide any information, telling us they were unaware of the tank presence.

However, we also spoke to staff at the Jinjian Inn, a hotel on the same street where the video was shot, who confirmed the presence of the tanks on July 17. They told us the tanks were being used for a military exercise.

That statement was confirmed by the China Maritime Safety Administration, which made an announcement about the exercise in the Yellow Sea region bordering the city of Rizhao and warned citizens not to approach it.

Screenshot of the China Maritime Safety Administration announcement.
Screenshot of the China Maritime Safety Administration announcement. © Observer

The announcement of the Maritime Police in Shandong Province reads: “From July 14 to 16, large-scale military activities will be carried out in the area at 36-53.00 N122-06.00 E、36-07.00 N120-54.20 E、35-09.00 N120 -54.20 E, 35-09.00N123-17.00E, 36-38.00N123-17.00E, 36-38.00N122-29.00E and 36-53.00N122-26.00E. Access will not be permitted.”

Therefore, the presence of the tanks does not necessarily have to be related to the banking scandal in Henan.

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