A police officer prevented a man from jumping off a tower block when he abseiled down the building to stop him.

In footage reminiscent of the eponymous hero of the Spiderman films, the police officer dives off the side of the building, swinging around at great speed to land next to the shirtless man and pin him against the wall.

The incident, in Ningbo City, Zheijang province, came after the young man, whose name has not been disclosed, stepped out on to a platform outside the residential building with the aim of ending his life.

Reportedly plagued by family problems, he stood high above a crowd of onlookers as police and fire fighters rushed to the scene.

Cai Shijun, of the Ningbo Public Security Bureau, said that attempts by emergency services to get near him failed as he repeatedly threatened to throw himself off.

"The man was very agitated and always threatened me by jumping. My repeated persuasion failed, so I withdrew," said Cai.

Police eventually managed to distract the would-be suicide by talking to him through a loudspeaker, while other officers assembled on the roof. The rescuer clambered down from the roof, and moved stealthily across the ledge on the other side of the building. Tethered to a high-tension wire, he reached the corner and dived off the ledge, swooping across to grab the civilian as he passed.

It was only with the help of other rescuers leaning out of windows that the officer managed to restrain the man, who was struggling to get free, and tie ropes around his feet. Onlookers applauded as they reached the ground.

Police officer Fan Haiyong played down the bravery of the emergency services.

"This is the responsibility of the regimental police," he said. "This is only one of the cases we have dealt with. As regimental police, we are supposed to handle such cases."