He said the woman had slipped into the river and “it quickly became clear that she had problems, she could not swim.”
“I didn’t have much time to do anything but go in,” Ellison told the BBC.
After Ellison catches the woman in the river, an observer throws a floating device into the water. Ellison then carried the woman to the lifebelt and the men pulled the couple to the riverbank.
“Thanks to the rescue, the student soon regained his breath and regained consciousness,”
The British embassy said it was “extremely proud” of Ellison.
“His courage and commitment demonstrate the best of British diplomats around the world,” Foreign Minister Dominique Raab wrote on Twitter.
China’s state-run CGTN reported that some observers returned Ellison to their home after the incident. They gave him dry clothes, coffee and food.
He was also presented with a 6-meter scroll for painting the ancient city of Zhongshan, CGTN reported.
After the student recovered, she and Ellison drank a drink, the diplomat told the BBC. She invited him to a meal, and Ellison said she hoped to see him soon.
Additional reporting by Reuters.