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China hails toddler rescuer as 'national role model'


A Chinese rubbish collector who tried to save a toddler who was run over in the street last October has been named a national role model by the official news agency Xinhua.

Online video showed at least 18 people walk past two-year-old Yue Yue as she lay bleeding and unconscious in the street in southern China before the rubbish collector picked her up and moved her to the kerb.

Yue Yue died of her injuries after the incident but the video went viral, shocking the Chinese public and triggering an outbreak of national soul-searching about the impact of rapid development and urbanisation on society.

Xinhua gave the accolade to the 58-year-old rubbish collector, Chen Xianmei, in a televised ceremony held on Monday evening after millions of Chinese people voted for her online.

Chen, who also works as a part-time cook, said her life had not changed much since her unexpected moment in the limelight.

"I just think we should save others," she said at the ceremony, aired on Beijing TV. "What I did was nothing special."

Wu Juping, a mother who caught a toddler who fell from an apartment building, and Hu Yanping, who took in 28 mentally disabled people after her own disabled son died in 2001, were also among the award-winners.