Police in Beijing detained dozens of people for disturbing the social order after demonstrators staged a protest on Monday (24 July) to complain that the government was unfairly targeting a charity.

Last week, police detained executives from a company, Shanxinhui, accusing them of operating a pyramid scheme and scamming people in the name of raising funds to help the poor, state news agency Xinhua said. Shanxinhui, which means Kindness Exchange, reportedly has about 5 million members.

On Wednesday, the Beijing police released a statement saying 67 of those involved in the protest had been detained. Authorities also had to shut down a major road in a southern neighbourhood of the city.

Sixty-three people were detained on criminal charges while four others were held for administrative offences, meaning they will not face criminal charges, police said in a statement.

Some of the people involved, who were not considered a threat and had repented, were released after they received the "rule of law education", the statement said.
Police said that those who had planned and instigated the action would be punished in accordance with the law.

Investors in the company told Reuters on Monday that Shanxinhui is being wrongly framed and it had genuinely helped a lot of poor people. Beijing police subsequently warned the protesters that it was against the law to organise "illegal gatherings" and that those who did so would be punished. The government accused Shanxinhui of cheating people out of money.

Last year, the Chinese authorities shut down peer-to-peer lender Ezubao over an online scam that took in some 50 billion yuan ($7.40bn, £5.63bn) from about 900,000 investors, according to state media.