This article originally appeared on VICE Asia
Authorities in China have unusual ways of pressuring people to pay their debts. Earlier this year, the Higher People’s Court of Hebei released an app that allowed citizens to detect any “deadbeat debtors” in the area and report them. Last year, people who defaulted on paying court-ordered fines were threatened with having their image displayed on public screens at shopping malls, railway stations, and markets. And then last week, during a premiere screening of the new Avengers movie, dozens of people who owed money to the state were publicly shamed by having their details broadcast on the silver screen.
The 30-second clip, put together by the Liandu District People’s Court, was played at a cinema in Lishui, Zhejiang province on Tuesday in the moments leading up to the midnight premiere of Avengers: Endgame, South China Morning Post reports. It featured the names and photos of 60 people, alongside the amount of money they owed, while delivering the stern message that there is "zero tolerance" for those who ignore their debts. The Liandu District People’s Court has since revealed that their aim is to reach more than 2,000 people a day with the video as a way of mounting pressure on debtors.
“By showing the video, people can learn the consequences of not fulfilling your responsibilities according to law,” the court said in a WeChat post on Wednesday. “To those who have the ability to pay but refuse or falsely declare their property, the court will take steps such as freezing their property, detaining or fining them, and even holding them criminally responsible.”
Liandu Court, who also came up with the aforementioned idea of showing debtors’ images on public screens, named and shamed 5,478 people in 2018—only 80 of whom actually paid up, the ABC reports. According to the court’s WeChat post last week, one man settled his debt of 50,000 yuan (about $10,500 AUD) after his daughter told him that she was going to the movies with friends and would be embarrassed if he was shown on this screen.
Similar tactics have reportedly been employed in the provinces of Hebei, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Jiangsu, and Guizhou.
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This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.