Late Chinese policewoman had US supporters

Updated: 2015-04-03 11:51

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco(China Daily USA)

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A young Chinese policewoman who died of cancer on Monday had garnered numerous wishes from her counterparts on the other side of the globe through social networking websites.

Zhao Xiaoli, 33, was a traffic officer in Southwest China's Sichuan province. She had received numerous get-well wishes from dozens of US police departments before she died, including the San Diego Police Department, the San Leandro Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, the New York Police Department and others in Texas and Massachusetts.

"She herself had received the wishes before she left," said Cartier Lee, who is vice-chairman of the San Leandro Police Chief's Advisory Board. "It's a comfort to us."

Lee is the creator of the San Leandro police page on Weibo, the largest social media website in China, and also the initiator of soliciting get-well photos from US police departments.

The information that Zhao was battling cancer first came to Lee through a follower of the San Leandro police Weibo page in China.

"I learned about her deeds, like how she helped in the disaster-relief work following an earthquake, and how she continued to work without telling her supervisor about her disease," Lee said.

With support from San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli, Lee translated the story into English and posted it on the police department's Twitter and Facebook pages, soliciting get-well photos from police officers.

Among the more than 90 San Leandro police officers who participated was Lt. Robert McManus, who appeared in one of the photos posted on Weibo and later picked up by many Chinese media.

"Although we may serve our communities in different countries, we all do it for the same reasons – to protect and serve our public, making our communities safer for everyone," said McManus, who is the department's press information officer.

"Although she served in China, she stood for the same principles that all law enforcement does," he said. "We honor her for her service. May she rest in peace."

Many more police officers in the US and Canada followed suit and sent Lee photos showing them holding signs with their wishes printed on them, both in Chinese and English.

"I sent all of the photos to Zhao's family, though I only posted a few online," he said. "Zhao's sister said she was very happy and thankful, as this would help her son to learn more about her mother when he grows up.

"The police officers paid a lot attention to this," Lee said. "As I understand, they regard it as a positive action to be able to give support to a Chinese counterpart."

San Leandro police joined Weibo in October last year to enhance its community outreach efforts by offering educational and informational updates to subscribers in both Chinese and English; about 14 percent of the city's residents are Chinese.

The Weibo page has more than 210,000 followers worldwide, including the Beijing and Nanjing police departments. According to Lee, they often exchange views on the different police operation systems in China and the US, as well as how to curb kidnappings.

Both Lee and McManus said they hadn't anticipated that Weibo could bring Chinese and US police officers closer.