Guangzhou laowai rolls out some high-level traffic justice

Should we get involved? A question that has plagued foreigners living in China since time immemorial. Do we step in when we see some gross injustice, or simply let it pass as “not our fight?”

It’s a tough question, and one not easily answered — unless you’re a rollerblading laowai in southern China’s Guangzhou. Being called “Rollerman”, the foreigner has been caught on traffic cameras around the city animatedly pointing out traffic violations to cars sporting government plates who no doubt thought they were above such petty laws.

According to The Independent:

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.

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.”

As residents here, do we have a right to stand up to abuses of power like this? Can we use our Foreigner Card to champion those who cannot afford to risk being stomped on by folks with more influence and power than them? Or should we just keep our heads down stay the frak out of things? What do you think?