Chengdu's latest Internet phenomenon: images of "Soft Knife" (温柔一刀), the policewoman with a pretty smile who uses her charm as a potent weapon to enforce the law.
From Sichuan Online:
A video called "Chengdu female police officer spends half an hour to gently insist on a male driver's penalty" 《成都女交警温柔执法违规男司机纠缠半小时认罚》 was posted online. In the video, the police officer is seen talking with the driver of a vehicle. Maintaining a friendly smile on her face at all times, she says a few words, and then salutes. The driver responds; she answers and salutes again. This goes on for nearly 20 minutes, during which she salutes 13 times. But still the driver does not get out of the car.
According to one of the forum posters, the police officer had requested that the driver procure his driver's license. The driver responded by saying that since he knew a certain party secretary, would the police officer kindly let him off this time? In this way the pair carried on for 20 minutes. In the end the driver finally got out of the car and reluctantly accepted his punishment.
Within just a few hours of the video being posted online, thousands of forum users had viewed it, and 260 comments had been made praising the policewoman's patience and deriding the driver's stubborness.
Some of the forum commentators recognized the traffic officer as one frequently on duty at Kuanzhai Xiangzi who had been nicknamed by drivers "Soft Knife."
The rookie officer is well-known at her branch. She issues the most penalties per day of any of the new officers. As long as there is a "knife" at the intersection, the traffic is noticeably better.
From time to time people ask for directions, but the officer's eyes never stray from an area 10 meters away where U turns are prohibited. And sure enough, it's not long before several cars attempting to make U turns there are taken down.
Just like in the online video, the officer smiles at each driver, salutes, and then writes the ticket. The penalized drivers accept the ticket and some even smile back.
But when asked about the videos of her online, the officer's face turns red, and she laughs in embarrassment.
Who is this officer? She is 24-year-old Hu Ling (胡玲), a graduate of Sichuan University's International Trade Department. She was admitted to the traffic-police force last year and took up her current post at the Aolin Stadium intersection in June of this year.
Although for the first few days standing in the sea of cars was daunting, Hu says that she quickly came to love with the feeling of being able to make the traffic get in order at her command. "There are so many cars and in such a short time I can get them all in order, what a feeling of accomplishment!" she said.
With her natural skill for the work, she was quickly promoted to issue fines to offending drivers. In one day she issued nearly 30 tickets and, to the surprise of her colleagues and superiors, collected over 1,000 RMB in fines.
After two months she was transferred to the Kuanzhai Xiangzi intersection. Drivers who passed her every day reported that throughout the summer, in nearly 40-degree heat, completely soaked in sweat, she directed traffic gracefully. It seemed she never took a break. And when they approached that intersection, there seemed to be an invisible force straightening out the cars, urging the drivers to correct their sloppy driving, buckle up, stop chatting on their cell phones while driving.
But just why does this video strike a chord with the Chinese public? A letter to the China Daily published last week sums it up:
She maintained politeness and dignity when enforcing the law, and strictly punished the violator breaking traffic rules.
Along with the growth of car ownership, transgressions on the roads are increasing, and the working pressure on traffic police is consequently rising. Maybe because of the pressure, traffic police officers usually deal with drivers in a crude and even imperious way. ...
Since we have seen too much rough behavior of police officers, the civilized law enforcement manner ... has been widely applauded in cyber space.
Since the video posting, Soft Knife has become something of a do-good icon. Another Sichuanese Hu Ling, a 27-year-old middle-school English teacher from Dazhu who's suffering from Leukemia, heard the story and contacted the Chengdu Commercial Daily. The paper arranged to have Officer Hu Ling visit Teacher Hu Ling. Having heard that Teacher Hu Ling had always wanted to be a police officer, Officer Hu Ling brought along her uniform and has vowed to use her newfound fame to help the teacher raise funds to pay for her treatment, which has already cost her family over 20,000 RMB.