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Petitioner uses belt in protest
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A petitioner has used a belt to fasten himself to Haizhu Bridge and avoid becoming the second person to be pushed off by frustrated locals.

Residents are impatient with the rising number of petitioners who attempt to publicize their cause by threatening to jump from the downtown bridge.

Local police were again called downtown on Tuesday at 9 am, when the 13th petitioner in two months climbed the bridge to draw attention to allegations that his store had been illegally repossessed.

Zhang Dingsheng, aged 60, from northern Shanxi province, fastened himself to the bridge to avoid being pushed off, as happened to the 12th climber, Chen Fuchao, who was injured in the fall.

Police and fireman grabbed Zhang after about one hour and dragged him to the ground, and traffic was once again allowed to cross the bridge.

"I don't think those climbers have any real intention to commit suicide. It is really unnecessary for the police to spend hours persuading them down while blocking the bridge," said Tang Xinmin, a local citizen in his 20's.

"I think the police and firemen did a good job forcing Zhang back to the inflated cushion."

Tang said he was late for work on two occasions in April because of the "bridge jumping show" and had been fined by his boss. He said that he now took the metro to work to avoid traffic delays caused by the petitioners.

"I dare not risk taking a bus across the bridge as the bridge has become such popular a venue for the jumping show," he said.

Zhong Jianqi, a middle-aged office worker in Guangzhou, said the petitioners were selfish.

"Their action not only disturbs the public order but also causes a great waste of police resources and their action affects thousands of people," she said.

"To be frank, I used to be sympathetic with them, but not anymore," Zhong said.

Local police are also frustrated with the petitioners.

"Whenever there is a climber, at least one rescue vessel, an ambulance, several police cars and fire engines have to respond and the bridge has to be blocked," said a police officer with the Haizhu branch of the city public security bureau. "That causes chaos in the community."

The petitioners can only be detained for about 10 days under Chinese law.

(China Daily June 4, 2009)

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