China praises British diplomat for saving drowning woman

BEIJING (AFP) – Beijing yesterday praised a British diplomat who was filmed diving into a river in southern China to save a drowning student.

Britain’s mission in the southwestern city of Chongqing said on Monday Consul General Stephen Ellison leapt into action at the weekend to save a woman who had fallen into a river coursing through a nearby tourist town.

The video on Chinese social media – viewed over 170 million times in China – shows Ellison pulling off his shoes and jumping in to rescue the woman, who was floating face down.

“I think he should be commended for his act of bravery. I like to give him a big, big thumbs up,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian at a routine briefing yesterday.

Ellison’s actions also earned praise from British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who tweeted, “His bravery and commitment demonstrates the very best of British diplomats around the world.” The 61-year-old former engineer had only recently been appointed to the role in the southern metropolis after serving for years at the main embassy in Beijing.