Chinese media is acclaiming ordinary people for their ‘selfless-acts’, describing them as “zumei” (means “most beautiful”), in an attempt to promote the government during the crucial period just before its leadership transition, Asahi Shimbun reports.

The “zumei” phenomenon began as a social responsibility campaign. The term is now used as an award for citizens, such as a bus driver or school teacher, who have gone out of their way to help others.

48-year old Wu Bin died a “zumei driver” after a piece of metal smashed through the windshield, piercing his abdomen. He struggled to control the bus to safety even though he was in pain and the media also hailed his family a “zumei family” when they refused to accept donations. The onboard video footage of the incident was repeatedly aired on TV.

Zhang Lili, 29, risked her life to save two students from being run over by a bus. The junior high school teacher was amputated after the incident. The media covered her story, giving updates on her daily condition to her recovery.

Though the campaign was meant to inspire others, many remain cynical. A democratic activist and writer, Zhu Jianguo, 60, told Asahi Shimbun that “the zumei phenomenon is an attempt by the Communist Party to divert the attention of the public from corruption”. The campaign did not win the sentiment of young people who expressed their opinion on the Internet. “Show me a party leader who is willing to make self-sacrifice,” a comment read.

A 2-year old girl in Foshan, Guangdong, was left lying on the street after being repeatedly run over in 2011, a video of which circulated to widespread revulsion.