Subscribe to our newsletter

     By signing up, you agree to our Terms Of Use.


    • About Us
    • |
    • Contribute
    • |
    • Contact Us
    • |
    • Sitemap

    How a Local Police Station Became China’s Hottest Holiday Destination

    A hit documentary has turned a police station in the central city of Changsha into a viral hotspot — and caused some unease among local authorities.

    During this year’s May Day holiday, passersby in the center of the central Chinese city of Changsha witnessed an unusual scene: Hundreds of people lined up outside a local police station, eagerly waiting to be caught.

    The station wasn’t making a mass arrest; instead, it had become the latest victim of China’s “check-in” culture, in which venues unexpectedly go viral on social media and then attract huge crowds of photo-seeking tourists.

    Throughout the five-day holiday, the lines outside the Pozi Street Police Station were unrelenting. Visitors reportedly lined up until as late as 11 p.m., taking turns to throw themselves on the ground in front of the main entrance in mock surrender: heads bowed, hands clasped behind their backs.

    The mass “check-in” generated a kind of snowball effect, as the long lines themselves went viral and attracted even more visitors. Chinese social media users joked that the Pozi Street police were “the most efficient in the world” because they were making so many “arrests.”

    Eventually, local authorities in Changsha appeared to become unnerved by the crowds, issuing notices urging the public to behave in an orderly manner while visiting the station and not to interrupt the police’s work.

    The police station was catapulted to fame by the success of the Chinese documentary series “Guardians of Jiefangxi,” which follows officers from Pozi Street Police Station as they patrol the Jiefangxi business district in central Changsha.

    The series has become a smash hit in China due to its unusual style: Unlike most Chinese police documentaries, which are earnest and dramatic in tone, “Guardians of Jiefangxi” offers an unvarnished portrayal of the officers’ everyday lives and the strange cases they often find themselves handling.

    Produced by Chinese video platform Bilibili in partnership with media company TVZone Media, the show has produced a string of moments that became viral memes — from the drunken teenage girl boldly proclaiming “I’m the boss of Changsha!” as officers gave her a warning, to the elderly man who called the police because his septuagenarian ex-girlfriend was demanding a 100-yuan “breakup fee.”

    This has helped the show become the most watched documentary in Bilibili’s history, receiving over 1 billion views on the platform. Each of its four seasons has also scored over 8 out of 10 on the Chinese ratings site Douban.

    Fans of the documentary have reportedly been making pilgrimages to Pozi Street Police Station ever since the first season was released in 2019. During a surge in visitors in 2021, authorities in the central Hunan province, which administers Changsha, published a guide for fans showing how to take photos in front of the police station in a civilized manner. In January, senior police officials in Changsha also took to CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, to remind the public to behave in an orderly fashion at the police station and not to disturb officers while on duty.

    But Pozi Street’s popularity appeared to reach new heights during last week’s May Day holiday, with a related hashtag attracting more than 4 million views on the microblogging platform Weibo.

    Netizens mainly seemed to be surprised and amused by the story, though some criticized the visitors’ “confession poses” as inappropriate. “I am quite tolerant of the rise of internet trends, but I don’t like the idea of admiring and imitating criminals,” wrote one influencer with over 440,000 followers on Weibo.

    Authorities in Changsha also appear to disapprove of the poses. While no incidents of visitors disrupting police work at Pozi Street have been reported, officers have installed a loudspeaker outside the station that plays the same message on a loop: “Please be civil. No squatting or head-clutching photos. Thank you for your cooperation.”

    Pozi Street Police Station is just the latest example of “check-in” culture turning a seemingly everyday location into a viral hotspot in China — a trend that regularly generates discussion due to the impact such incidents often have on local residents.

    Last month, a set of outdoor fitness machines in the southwestern city of Chengdu began to attract huge crowds of selfie-snapping visitors after being featured in a music video for a popular hip-hop track. This sparked the ire of locals living nearby, who complained that their housing complex had suddenly turned into a “Disneyland.”

    Additional reporting: Li Dongxu.

    (Header image: Tourists pose as confessing suspects, taking pictures for social media, at Pozi Street Police Station in Changsha, Hunan province, May 5, 2024. VCG)