He stood outside a busy Beijing train station, offering himself as a punching bag.
Pay him 10 yuan (S$2) and you can punch him once.
Crazy? No. He was so desperate to raise funds for his son's medical bills that he hit upon this unique idea, Xinhua news agency reported.
His gesture earned him more sympathy than punches and made many Chinese reflect on the country's welfare system. Mr Xia Jun's son, two, known as "Haohao", has leukaemia.
The 31-year-old had sold his property in Nanchong in south-west China's Sichuan province, but that still did not cover the expenses for his son's chemotherapy.
Late last month, he decided to ask for donations in Beijing to meet the huge medical bills.
A picture of Mr Xia standing in front of a collection box and two photographs of his chubby-cheeked son was posted on Sina Weibo microblog last week.
In the picture, he was seen standing in front of Guomao station, one of Beijing's busiest, as commuters pass by. On his white T-shirt was the message: "Human punchbag: 10 yuan per punch."
PATS, NOT PUNCHES
Mr Xia said the only "punches" he received were from people coming over to pat him on the shoulder and urging him to stay strong. His appeal touched, and pained, many. Donations poured in and the amount collected has exceeded 680,000 yuan. Mr Xia has urged people to stop donating as he has enough for his son's treatment.
"It made me cry. This is truly a father's love," read one Weibo comment.
Mr Xia, whose son is being treated in a Beijing hospital, said that in planning his appeal, he was prepared for the worst-case scenario: being hit by passers-by. But he was undaunted.
Said Mr Xia said in an interview with China Central Television: "My baby's life is more important than my dignity."
The case led many to question China's basic social assistance system, which is still flawed in handling cases like Mr Xia's.
He said that even though a medical insurance system has been set up, about half of his son's medical expenses cannot be reimbursed because "there are so many restrictions".
This article was first published on Dec 11, 2014.
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