Chinese man's suicide scams win him fans and haters

BEIJING - A chinese man who repeatedly staged suicide attempts to extort cash has been both praised and blasted by netizens.

Some online commentators have applauded his "business acumen", while others called on him to jump to his death, said local media reports yesterday.

The 47-year-old, surnamed Li, was pictured on different sets of scaffolding around tall buildings after news of his arrest emerged, and the media mockingly nicknamed him "Brother Building-jumper".

"Li would often make his suicide threats in busy public places or at open construction sites, and demand cash from owners or his rescuers," the state-run Global Times said yesterday, citing police.

The former air-conditioner installer had carried out the scam in more than seven provinces since 2011, the newspaper added, without giving the total number of fake suicide attempts.

Police in the central province of Jiangxi arrested him when he threatened to jump from the sixth floor of a building under construction, over claims he did not receive back pay.

"Officers took Li into custody after (they) wooed him down with a promise of 800 yuan (S$170)," the newspaper said.

Li was said to have extorted 12,000 yuan in total.

He was a popular topic on China's message boards.

"Moral degeneracy is one of China's special characteristics," one netizen blasted on Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter.

"Let him jump!" said another.

Other posters were less scornful.

"He does have a knack for good business," said one of Li's defenders, while another claimed: "This kind of behaviour is an art form."