A British diplomat has become a hero in China after a video of him rescuing a student from a swollen river racked up tens of millions of views on social media.
The British mission in Chongqing on Monday said that British Consul General Stephen Ellison leaped into action on Saturday to save a woman who had fallen into a river coursing through a nearby tourist town.
“Due to the timely rescue, the woman quickly recovered her breathing and consciousness,” read the consulate’s post on Weibo.
Ellison, 61, was visiting the town when he heard a cry from a crowd of people as the woman fell into the water.
In video footage shared by the consulate and Chinese media, Ellison is seen tearing off his shoes and jumping in fully clothed before swimming to the woman, who appeared to be unconscious.
A life preserver was thrown to the pair and Ellison — by several media accounts an accomplished triathlete — dragged her to a lifebuoy before dragging the two of them to shore.
“We are all immensely proud of our Chongqing consul general,” the British embassy in Beijing wrote on Twitter on Monday.
Ellison’s actions earned praise from his boss back in the London, British Secretary of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Dominic Raab, who echoed the sentiments.
“Very proud of Stephen Ellison, our new consul general in Chongqing, China, for saving a student from drowning at the weekend,” he wrote on Twitter. “His bravery and commitment demonstrates the very best of British diplomats around the world.”
The hashtag “British Consul-General in Chongqing saves female student who fell in the water” had by Monday evening gained almost 40 million acknowledgements on Weibo as news of Ellison’s bravery spread, with some contrasting his action during the incident with the relative passivity of the onlookers.
“For a man of such advanced age to save another person from the water in such cold weather, regardless of his own safety, he is a hero and gentleman,” read one comment, liked nearly 2,000 times.
“Regardless of our differences ... to act heroically is a virtue and should be praised,” another wrote.
Ellison took up his post in June after serving as a senior diplomat at the British embassy in Beijing since 2014.
Additional reporting by AP
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