Chinese city abuzz at Rollerman's drive against rule-breakers
Monday 09 May 2011
China's southern boomtown of Guangzhou has a new hero – "Rollerman", a mysterious bespectacled foreigner on rollerblades who has taken to challenging government vehicles seen violating traffic rules.
He is an unlikely superhero – more Clark Kent than Superman, in a red T-shirt, often wearing his backpack or clutching his shopping in a brown paper bag as he points at the signs being flagrantly ignored by the cadres.
Chinese number plates are colour-coded to indicate which sector of society is using the car – most plates are blue, foreigner plates are black, and official government plates are white.
The silver people-carrier challenged by Rollerman in one photograph is clearly an official's car, and some web sites have identified the plate as belonging to a branch of the military or public security.
In an atmosphere of growing hostility towards perceived abuse of privilege by government officials, Rollerman has his fans, although some are concerned that it takes a laowai – a common Chinese expression to describe a foreigner – to intervene to stop the cadres breaking the rules.
"In the evening I always see cars doing this on that road, and I give them an angry star (gesture)," said one web commentator. "We should call this foreigner a hero. If we all acted like this on the road, we'd be charged with disrupting state security! But that it takes a laowai to help us sort out the business of the road is shameful."
Officials can frequently be seen whizzing down the breakdown lane, horns honking, in black Audi limousines and, increasingly, in large Porsche SUVs. Many ordinary Chinese question whether they are indeed on official business.
"There's no way that we could behave like Rollerman," wrote the web commentator. "(The police and government) take bullying us citizens as their right ... Only foreigners can do this, not us."
Others were philosophical. "Who has more privilege – a car with military plates or a foreigner?" asked one.
Another referred to a cadre's son who allegedly ran over a young woman while drunk and tried to use his father's high office to avoid responsibility. Unless his father was a high-ranking official, Rollerman "better run away", the web user advised.
For now, Rollerman remains anonymous, with neither the bloggers nor local media able to identify the lean man seemingly taking the traffic law into his own hands.
And for a government mindful of the need to keep a firm grip on single-party rule, clearing up growing public anger about abuse by officialdom features high on the order of business.
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Details emerge of two young Iranians using stolen passports in search for a better life
Three-quarters of Britons are saying it wrong - the top ten most common mispronunciations
Oscar Pistorius trial: Forensic analyst says athlete 'was not wearing prosthetic legs' when he smashed locked toilet door with a bat
Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: ‘Alright, good night’ – last words from cockpit revealed amid growing confusion
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 Boy George: Bad karma
- 2 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 3 First Kiss video: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 4 Rampaging elephant smashes up house but then 'saves crying baby trapped under debris'
- 5 Ian Wright breaks down in ITV documentary charting his rise to Arsenal and England striker
£20,000 to £25,000: IT Connections Ltd: Graduate C / C++ Developer / Electroni...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: C / C++ Software Engineer / Windows / ...
£50,000 to £60,000: IT Connections Ltd: C++ / Java / Senior Software Developer...
£23500 - £50000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education is...