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Since being thrust onto the world stage, residents of a once obscure part of China have rallied round to help those affected by the sinking of a cruise ship, an outpouring of kindness in a country more used to worrying about a decline in public morals.

The 1.5 million people of Jianli, which sits on a bend of the mighty Yangtze River in the central province of Hubei, have offered free food, car rides and even hair-dressing services to the relatives, rescuers, officials and reporters who have rushed there after the ship carrying more than 450 people sank in a storm on June 1.

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