Most of these investors cannot really speak or write in English. Those who understand English best sometimes write a template for others to copy. Most of the time, individuals use online translation tools to turn their Chinese writing into English messages, though they’re often written with poor grammar like “please attention.”

The effort may be paying off. This week, Wen Yunchao, a New York-based Chinese human rights activist who has nearly 250,000 followers, made a public list of the Fanya investors he discovered on Twitter, and re-tweeted them to call for attention. Another Twitter user offered 200 free accounts of a proxy service to them.

Cong said they haven’t heard back from media for interview requests (except Quartz), perhaps because some foreign news outlets have already covered their physical protests in China. They are looking for more, she said. “There must be some righteous media people in the world.”

While these investors keep on “harassing” foreign media and Obama on Twitter, they are also planning a direct email campaign, in a template as follows:

Dear Sir & Madam,
We are Fanya investors who are cheated by the government. We lost our life savings by putting money into government funded company Fanya!… Could you please report Fanya on your media? Please help us!

A changing world behind the wall

China’s netizens have collectively jumped the Great Firewall before, but for very different reasons. In January, an army of Chinese trolls blasted the Facebook page of Taiwan’s incoming president Tsai Ing-wen with anti-Taiwan comments and memes, for example.

Fanya’s investors, though, would have been unlikely to try to go around Chinese censorship beforehand. “If this hadn’t happened, I would never have learned to ‘jump the wall,’” one investor named Tittizhush wrote on Twitter. “I used to live my nourishing life, but now… it’s horrible.”

What’s more, they were unlikely to express “anti-China” opinions before—but now many do.

Like most upper middle class in China who enjoy a “nourishing life” in China (an often-used phrase that means much the same as “comfortable life”) Fanya’s investors didn’t think much about freedom of speech, assembly, demonstration, voting rights, or democracy until they realized they needed them to recover their life savings.

After joining Twitter, Cong said she realized “unfair, unbelievable things happen in China every day.” She keeps on reading posts about the government’s crackdown on individuals’ rights and civil society. “In the past I was optimistic about our country,” she said. Now she writes in her Twitter biography, “I hate China, I want leaving here, go anywhere.”

Gu, 50, who accumulated his fortune through his property business, invested seven million yuan into Fanya. More than four million yuan were bank loans, and he had to borrow money from his relatives to pay them back. ”I spent the past year to understand the real China,” Gu said of the government’s crackdown on their protests to recoup their losses. “Otherwise I’d be still living in the world of CCTV news broadcast.”

Gu said he only posts about Fanya, but reads about other civil rights movements including the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, on Twitter. He hopes to see China guarantee free speech and elections in the future. “After all, we, generation after generation, live in this place,” he said. But if democracy remains beyond reach in China, Gu said, many investors, himself included, think that they or their children will have to emigrate.

Investors from two other financial frauds have reached out asking how to organize similar activities on Twitter, Cong said.

She believes such action is worth trying, but whether it has any impact still depends on Beijing. “If the Chinese government doesn’t care about how the world thinks of it,” she said, the Twitter fight “doesn’t make sense.”

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