Chinese student driven to brink of suicide after running up loans he could not repay

Young man was able to keep on borrowing from lenders that operate on campus

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 August, 2017, 12:35pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 August, 2017, 3:20pm

A college student was reportedly driven to the brink of suicide because he could not pay back loans of 110,000 yuan (US$16,500).

It was not the first time the student, who was identified by the pseudonym Xiao Zhang, had been in trouble for his failure to repay his debts, according to Yangtse Evening News.

He was found sitting at the roadside, in a highly distressed condition, near a subway station in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province, on Sunday evening,

The student was taken to the police and told them he had been thinking about killing himself because of his debts.

He borrowed a total of 300,000 yuan in less than three years via online lending firms – some of them operating illegally – which typically target college students.

“I cannot help borrowing. I am the kind of the person who has a false sense of pride but suffers greatly,” he said.

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His trouble started when he saw posters on campus at his college in Nanjing advertising loans. In October 2015, a month after he started college, he applied for a loan of 6,000 yuan to buy an iPhone 6.

He had to repay in instalments of hundreds of yuan a month over two years – which he could afford to do.

But he then started borrowing more to buy expensive items, including a home theatre and high-performance audio equipment.

He said he liked to be the first among his classmates to have a new mobile phone and changed his handset every few months.

By the end of June 2016, Xiao Zhang had borrowed 60,000 yuan from over 20 online lending firms, but had to seek help from his parents when he could not pay off his debts.

But Xiao Zhang failed to learn from the experience, even when his parents, who paid off his debts, reduced his monthly living allowance from 2,000 yuan to 1,200 yuan.

By May this year he had run up further debts of 100,000 yuan and once again had to ask his parents to pay them off.

Many online lending firms refused to lend more to him due to his poor record, and he increasingly turned to illicit lenders.

He also borrowed money via WeChat, where lending companies charge higher interest rates and require much quicker repayment.

Earlier this year, the authorities announced measures to ban online lenders from targeting students after a number of cases where unscrupulous companies had allowed youngsters to run up sky-high debts.

In July Xiao Zhang, who was working as an intern at a company, took out 20 loans ahead of a business trip to Tibet so he could enjoy himself there.

China bans online lenders from targeting students

The left him with a total debt of 110,000 yuan that he had to repay by August 21.

His inability to pay back the money and the embarrassment he felt about telling his parents left him thinking about ways to kill himself.

He said he had abandoned this idea but instead had lapsed into a deep depression.

The newspaper report said his parents may help to pay off his latest debts.

The report also said a compound in a college cluster in Nanjing was notorious among students as an underground financial centre.

It cited sources as saying that there are more than 100 lending companies – some of them operating illegally – targeting students.

“Everyone has different reasons to borrow. Some may be for emergencies, but some may just want to satisfy their vanity,” said Xiao Zhang.