Mother Crawling On Knees In Guangzhou Was A Publicity Stunt

Chinese mother Xie Sanxiu in Guangzhou, crawling on her knees in hopes of getting a donation from a rich netizen to help save her baby daughter's life.

Chinese mother Xie Sanxiu in Guangzhou, crawling on her knees in hopes of getting a donation from a rich netizen to help save her baby daughter's life.

From ifeng and KDNet:

Loving mother believes joke by “Rich Son”, crawls 1000 meters on her knees to get money for medical expenses

Yesterday afternoon, on Guangzhou Avenue heading towards the sports center, a mother carrying a 6-month-old daughter suffering eye cancer was walking on her knees. The reason for her doing this was because a netizen named “Rich Son of Guangzhou” [“广州的富家公子”] had said that if she can carry her child and crawl on her knees on Guangzhou Avenue to the sports center, he would immediately have someone meet her there and donate 20,000 yuan. Perhaps you would laugh at this woman for being so foolish, but she said as long as there is a sliver of hope to save her baby, she’s willing to try anything. However, this reporter learned last night that netizen “Rich Son of Guangzhou” had no plans of keeping his promise.

Mother Xie Sanxiu resting on some steps during her mission to crawl 1000m along Guangzhou Avenue in hopes of getting a donation from a wealthy young man.

Mother Xie Sanxiu resting on some steps during her mission to crawl 1000m along Guangzhou Avenue in hopes of getting a donation from a wealthy young man online.

This story began when the mother, Xie Shanxiu, made an internet post titled “Beg society’s kind-hearted people to save baby with eye cancer” on the popular Chinese internet discussion forum Tianya. In the post, the mother explains her newborn baby daughter’s unfortunate medical condition (cancer relating to her eye that threatens not only her vision but also her life) and how her and her husband’s efforts to treat and save her daughter’s life have bankrupted the couple’s already impoverished financial situation.

Below is a photo of Xie Sanxiu’s daughter Hou Shanshan. She also included other scanned documents to prove her story and their need for help:

Hou Shanshan has cancer on her eye.

From Guangzhou Daily & KDNet:

Most netizens expressed sympathy towards what has happened to Xie Sanxiu’s child. But amongst them was a netizen named “Rich Son of Guangzhou” who said to Xie Sanxiu: “With so many people in the world who need help, why should you be helped?” Then, he said: “In this society not every person is this society is kind-hearted. You say you are willing to exchange your life for your child’s health, but it’s easy to say such things, so who would believe you? If you’re serious/able, crawl 1,000 meters on a Guangzhou street and I will immediately donate 20,000 yuan to you.”

A netizen angrily said: “Regardless of whether or not you can help this baby, you still don’t need to say this kind of thing. It will just hurt the baby’s mother.”

However, in order to save her child, Xie Sanxiu didn’t express any anger, and instead said: “Regardless of wind or rain, I must go. As long as I can save my baby, I’m willing to do anything. I hope “Rich Son of Guangzhou” you will honor your promise.

Yesterday afternoon at 2 o’clock Xie Sanxiu, carrying her child, arrived at the Guangzhou Avenue bus station, got down on her knees and began walking forward.

Pedestrians around her cast her strange looks, but she completely ignored them. This reporter asked her whether she knew how to contact “Rich Son of Guangzhou”. She said she didn’t know. “As long as I can save my baby, as long as there is a sliver of hope, I will try anything.”

After some passersby learned about her situation, they began giving money generously, giving 20, 50, 100, 300 yuan of varying donation amounts to Xie Sanxiu.

At around 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon, a young man who claimed to be the moderator/administrator of the Tianya G4 Online forum appeared before Xie Sanxiu. After learning who this reporter was, he said: “Hurry and tell her that ‘Rich Son of Guangzhou already knows what she is doing, and he wants her to stop crawling on her knees, that he will find a solution for the money problem.”

But Xie Sanxiu did not pay any attention, and insisted on crawling on her knees to the sports center before she would stop. The Tianya G4 Online forum moderator said that even though “Rich Son of Guangzhou” said that he would find a way, he did not explicitly say he would donated 20,000 yuan.

One hour later, the Tianya G4 Online forum moderator contacted this reporter and said: “I have some bad news. I’ve contacted ‘Rich Son of Guangzhou’ to verify the matter of donation, but he said, ‘I won’t donate any money, she was just asking for it.'” Later, the Tianya G4 Online forum moderator again contacted this reporter , “When I tried to contact ‘Rich Son of Guangzhou’ again, he was already ignoring me.”

A passerby hands some money to help Xie Sanxiu, a mother who crawled 1000 meters on her knees along Guangzhou Avenue seeking help for her daughter with eye cancer.

From VOC:

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Moderator who planned “mother crawls on knees” stunt dismissed, Shilehui has already received 50,000 in donations

Beginning from the day before yesterday, a heartless netizen named “Rich Son of Guangzhou” had a mother with a sick child crawl 1000 meters on her knees without keeping his promise to donate 20,000 yuan, angering many netizens. Afterward, the Tianya community confirmed that the “Rich Son of Guangzhou” who had tricked the poor mother was actually Tianya moderator “Jinquan Young Swordman” [“金泉少侠”].

Yesterday, this reporter began an investigation of this matter, discovering that this wasn’t as simple as a “trick”. The “Jinquan Young Swordman” who had orchestrated this from behind the scenes told this reporter that this was a publicity stunt that he had planned and with the mother Xie Sanxiu’s agreement, that Xie Sanxiu knew “Jinquan Young Swordman” was “Rich Son of Guangzhou” and also knew that the 20,000 was just a ploy in the publicity stunt. “Jinquan Young Swordman” says that doing this was ultimately so this mother and daughter can win the attention and concern of netizens. “Jinquan Young Swordman” admits this crosses the line, but he says there was no other way.

Jinquan Shaoxia, former Tianya G4 Online forum administrator.

Reporter interview with “Jinquan Young Swordsman”

Reporter: Why did you use a method that would provoke netizen anger?

Jinquan Young Swordsman: There are too many people who need help these days. If you don’t do it this way, you simply can’t get people’s attention.

Reporter: Now you’ve been removed from your moderator position, and have been condemned by netizens. Do you think it was worth it?

Jinquan Young Swordman: It was worth it. Though I regret that my identity was exposed, I achieved the result I was looking for, so I still feel it was worth it.

Reporter: Don’t you feel this kind of publicity stunt crosses the line?

Jinquan Young Swordsman: Yes, but I am not a master planner/schemer, I can’t think of a better method, I can only think of these sort of small clever tricks.

Jinquan Shaoxia, former Tianya G4 Online forum moderator, claims he orchestrated this publciity stunt to help Xie Sanxiu.

Comments from Sina:

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Motherfucker, if you’re not going to help, then forget it! But what kind of man are you for bullying a woman?


If I see him, I’d beat him onto his knees. Don’t say it was good intentions, I can’t accept that, I maintain he deserves a beating.


If they didn’t do this publicity stunt to get attention, would she have gotten the help she needed?! I can only lament that this society is too realistic!


He had the right intentions, it’s just that the method was extreme…


This is the sadness of social problems! Helpless citizens ought to seek help from social welfare institutions, yet are forced to adopt these sort of extreme methods! Maybe this moderator himself simply wanted this result/effect, attracting the attention of the masses, using the power of society to help the mother…


Hiring human scum to be a moderator, Tianya, you are culpable too!


Without doing the publicity stunt, no one would’ve paid attention/took notice.


Society these days, just what is wrong with it? Fame these days, just what’s wrong with it all? For a so-called publicity stunt, willing to discard all humanity.


Toward this promoter, I pay my highest tribute, to have sacrificed his own reputation to get society’s concern, you are truly worthy of being an expert promoter.
If this person is a promoter, he couldn’t have not known that this would bring him serious consequences from arousing the anger of the masses and being human flesh searched. This is a classic example of a self-injury strategy/desperate measure.


Pro!~ Even if he himself is utterly discredited, he still succeeded. I admire him.


It’s very obvious that this is the Tianya website doing a publicity stunt for itself and have succeeded!!! Too inhuman!!!


No matter what, the mother is a great person to suffer this kind of humiliation for her child!


If the child’s illness can be cured, then it isn’t necessary to bicker [over the methods used]. Maybe everyone simply has different ways of thinking. Hope people with good hearts will be rewarded.

Carrying her baby daughter with eye cancer in her arms, Chinese mother Xie Sanxiu crawls 1000 meters along Guangzhou Avenue.

The original Tianya post now includes the following update:

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Special notice: According to a Guangzhou Daily report, as of 9 o’clock on the morning of March 24th, Xie Sanxiu publicized that her personal bank account has received 214,937.95 yuan in donations. In addition, the Shilehui website [a charity platform that allows people to request help and help others] publicized that 72,864.00 RMB in donations have so far been collected for [Hou] Shanshan. Total donations has reached 287,801.95 RMB (not including in person donations and donations from other channels). The cost of the medical treatment has already basically been taken care of. Xie Sanxiu herself also hopes that everyone will stop donating.

Hou Shanshan's page on
Hou Shanshan's story on

Do the “ends justify the means” in this case? Do you think this publicity stunt to get other people’s attention to help her is right or wrong?

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

  • xmcx

    Amazing! Don’t people pay taxes in China, that they have no health care for sick babies?

    • Chris

      Don’t people in the US pay taxes? Why then, do they also have no free health care?

      PS: not assuming you are an American, but the state of tax have no direct relationship with health care necessarily, even though it should.

    • jin

      ehm america isnt much different you know…
      in america if you dont have life insurance/money.
      the ambulance will ignore you.
      they wont help you.
      you will be left to die.

      so its not any better or IS IT?

      • xmcx

        As you point out, it does seem much better in the US, which would explain why so many are trying hard to leave wherever they are and go live there. The article you cite is really insightful, pandering both to the guilt/sob story and the true words of the situation:
        -America is , by constitution/founding fathers, not leftist, not a welfare state.
        -The woman is a Rwandan refugee who quit work to help her sons, also refugees who have been granted citizenship and work permits. In the lapse of time before she got minimal free coverage, her 6 sons -quite litterate- did not team up to buy their mother insurance. When she struck, it was only 3 years to go until she was granted sufficient residency rights to include minimal health care.
        -She is not being “left to die”, but put in a hospice where she will have to be hand fed.I guess if her 6 sons can’t feed her, then she will die of hunger.If Rwanda has a better “culture”,watch me queue up to emigrate there!
        That said, I deeply respect peoples all over the world.My initial point was: “welfare state” and “community charity” state are two different systems that I don’t attempt to compare: “dog eat dog” is a third system that seems uniformly harsher, and prevalent in certain countries even after over 5000 uninterrupted years of civilization.

      • Timmy

        In America if you have no insurance and you have a medical emergency, they will treat you without money or insurance. That is why many Americans accumulate medical bills that need to be paid back. I know of someone who had heart surgery in America and was literally billed 6 figures for the process. Still paying on it to this day.

        In China, if you don’t have the money, you will die in the emergency room. It is very different. While the US healthcare system is harsh is 1 million more times fair than China’s. That article you sited was a perfect example. That family had no money to pay and that woman was kept alive on life support of a long time. Life support meaning, she was not eatting or breathing on her own. She was living totally by machines. In these types of cases, the only option is to pull the plug. It is hard for everyone involved and there is no right answer but this lady would have been dead instantly in China with no money but in America she was put on life support and given the chance to live.

      • bob

        you are sorely misinformed

        you call 911 in america, ambulance will immediately come regardless of any insurance. they wont let you die

        you can even go into an emergency by yourself, regardless of insurance and by law they have to treat you completely.

        in fact, homeless people abuse the system and stay in hospitals for free for months at a time and the hospitals by law cannot kick them out so they stay as long as they want. the taxpayers pay for these individuals

        you’re probably not american so it’s natural to have misconceptions

        • Mercator

          I would be interested in reading of any examples of homeless people staying in hospital for months at a time.

          • B-real

            yeah but homeless people do get medical care. They won’t refuse treatment. Homeless people won’t get preferential medical care. They just simply put them in a convalescent home until the doctors there feel they are stable enough to leave. The bill is still in his name and usually will never get paid unless this guy tries to take out a loan and then that is when they catch em. Trust me their are no similarities between China’s and the US’s medical system.

            Taxes only pays county hospitals and for those who receives Medicaid or Medicare insurance, homeless chose not to use such social benefits. There are exceptions like Hawaii and other states where state has mandated that any one with a social security number and pays state tax through income can enjoy free medical.

          • B-real

            I just read the article and confirms what I just wrote. She was not a citizen second she was technically dead. There was no bringing her back unless a an act of God were to intervene. Medically and humanely speaking the hospital is no longer performing a service to the patient but supporting the wishes a family keeping her body from decaying naturally. This is a big debate in the US but it isn’t here in China.

            Bob I don’t agree that homeless can stay in the hospital for as long they like. Its solely at the discretion of the medical staff at the facility but they may chose to check out against medical advice.

            I like to add that vets get the benefits too.

          • bob

            you might not believe that homeless get to stay in hospitals for free and an unlimited amount of time but it’s the truth. however, maybe it differs from state to state, hospital to hospital, but at least where i live, they can basically go into the ER saying they are ill and once they get checked in, a hospital cannot force someone to leave. this is a fact. it is against the law. same for you and me, but of course, we would have an astronomical bill. but that doesnt apply to homeless people.

            this costs taxpayers an insane amount of money year in year out and it will continue to drain the system.

          • bob

            btw it all started with someone who didnt have insurance in the 80s that was turned away at the ER. That person died outside on the sidewalk. ever since then there is nothing hospitals can do about it. they say they are sick, that they are unwell, hospitals are legally liable to provide for them until they are “better”

            do you honestly believe that if a homeless didnt want to leave, they would somehow “force” him out?? how? with police? and what if he really WAS sick and died outside a few days later or something. nope, by law hospitals cannot kick someone out of a hospital.

          • Mercator

            Please provide an example of a homeless person staying for months in a hospital for free.

          • bob

            i already left a comment earlier that can be found down below,not a reply to this one, providing a link and saying how you can find statistics, articles, and books detailing this exact scenario. you can find this information and all sorts of other wonderful information through this new, amazing invention called the internet. give it a try

          • bob

            1 second search on google:


            gives a scenario that i brought up

            i’m sure if i cared enough and didnt know this information already like you, i could conduct a more thorough search to find some concrete examples. but alas, since i already know it myself, that is your journey in life. good luck learning how to use the internet

          • James

            The example bob gave was from canada, which has universal health care, but america doesn’t because of the big insurance giant’s lobbying. I heard news of homeless people dying on the street of nyc a few times.

          • bob

            james check out PeterScriabin’s post below

            the study i linked was actually first conducted in NY, which would actually mean since we dont have universal health care, it actually costs a hell of a lot more per homeless individual

          • B-Real

            yes but it also stated that they don’t let them stay in definately only until they are deemed medically fit or stable. They can’t stay in the hospital but they are moved to different facilities. The law can’t force sick ir ill people out of hospitals but if the Doctors says they are cured, healed or healthy to surivive on their own the hospital will have this person removed with legal force. Universal health or not. There are plenty of places for the homeless to recieve room and bored and medical care on the dime of tax payers as stated in that very article but as I said before only on a need to have basis. The difference between universal is that its tax paid and every one gets it, but non-universal the homeless gets a hold on any future financial prospect thru its acrewed credit because someone is going to have to pay for it 1 way or another. But hopefully that will all change soon.

            I’ve been on the recieving side of the homeless benefits back in my college days and that shit caught up with me when I wanted to buy my first house and this outstanding credit hold was present. Turned out county hospital put out a collection because I had no Medicaid, too young for medicare and didn’t have any money to pay $11000 ER bill racked up for a broken foot. The 5 year penalty was a nice 17% interest/year increase. Do the math, lucky for them I wanted that house.

  • mlgb

    That’s a pretty cruel trick to play on someone.

    • Did you read the article? It wasn’t a trick on her, it was a trick on everyone else to get their attention.

      Can’t say I blame her, if you’re kid is dying who wouldn’t try anything they can to save her?

      What’s truely cruel is that she had to go to these lengths just to not have her child die.

  • Tommy

    Man, the Mainland needs to work on it’s healthcare system. I think there is something successful going on in the country side?

  • It seems there is no trick involved. The woman knew it was a stunt and she got the money from donors who were sorry for her. Or are people upset that she tricked the public into donating money to her?

    • Marsvin

      I would be. For the woman using any means possible, that’s understandable. But you are effectively poisoning the well for the next person to come along. When every cry for help or questionable post turns out to be a publicity stunt, soon we’ll stop believing any of it.

      There was a big media company in my country that did something similar, to “raise awareness” but all it did was make people distrust and hate the organization. No one remembers the cause they were promoting but everyone remembers being tricked.

      • Bo Wang

        I agree with what you wrote.

        People are going to be wary, just like with street beggars; which ones are real and which ones are just putting on a show?

        Too bad it has to be this way.

      • anon

        I can’t tell if her posting for help was part of the publicity stunt or not. Did she begin by posting and then the moderator reached out to her to help or did the moderator coordinate the entire stunt including her initial posting?

        The way I first understood it was that she posted her plea sincerely, and the moderator contacted her after seeing it because he wanted to help her somehow. The way he envisioned helping her was to orchestrate an online drama or controversy. He’d use a false identity to be mean (or actually, just cruelly realistic and honest about the difficulties of getting help online in a society where so many people need help) to her, stoking a reaction from those who are sympathetic to her. She’d help blow it up by actually taking him up on what most people understood to be a joke. They’d take some pictures and put it online to blow it up further, playing on the desperation of the mother to do anything even if she knows the offer was likely a joke, and playing on the heartlessness of the guy who jokingly offered to donate money to her.

        I wonder if the guy being revealed as a Tianya moderator was also part of the grand scheme, as it would bring even more publicity to the matter (and to Tianya itself too).

        I agree with Marsvin, the problem here is that the desperation of desperate parents is cheapened here. People will wonder if future parents seeking help online or crawling on their knees are really that desperate or if they’re putting on a show to get donations. One is sincere, the other is calculated. People are okay with being touched by someone’s desperation but they don’t like being manipulated. That’s the problem here. I’m sure the baby needed help and the parents were desperate, but there’s still that manipulation that’s going to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths.

  • Chiko

    For all the communism and lack of human rights, Chinese are great trolls.

  • Wade

    wait, the guy goes by “jinquan young swordsman”?

  • Genxi

    Even though the trick was cruel, but I am glad to know there’s such a great meaning attached to the essence of this case. So what if the trick was a bit extreme, at least a life is saved through this measure – I believe such doing is understandable and noble.

  • Lin

    Just As Planned

  • Evalin

    I have seen high class ladies in America do the same da*n thing.

  • Jizzinmypants

    His methodology was extreme and sucessful. HOWEVER! This success will only encourage evil greedy retards to follow this method in the hope of getting that large amount of money. I bet right now there’s an underground fake beggars group trying to find ways to orchestrate something like this because the rewards are ludicrous to them.

  • bomber

    As a Chinese poster above noted:

    A young man’s reputation lies in ruins.

    A baby girl gets a second chance at life.

    Fair trade.

    Truly a noble act, if the story ends here.

  • bob

    well i know it because my mom’s a nurse. when they do finally discharge them, they also have to provide up to 1 week of hotel vouchers for them. and after that week, most just bounce right back in.

    oh and google is seriously pretty amazing. i found numerous studies, books and articles within seconds of searching. i wanted to link more than 1 but unfortunately the website says that my post “looks spammy”

    • Mercator

      It says nothing about homeless people staying for months for free.

      PS Toronto is not part of the United States.

      • PeterScriabin

        @Mercator Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 10:24 pm

        Take the mouse in your good hand, move it over this study comparing costs and stay-lengths of homeless versus other people in New York City and press the left hand side of the mouse, near the top of the device.

        When the screen refreshes, read through the text. Assuming you can read (and you are reading this, right?), you will find out that homeless people are admitted to hospitals in the USA.

        These researchers mention that, as part of their methodology, and to prevent bias in the results, they excluded homeless stays > 150 days.

        As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, their treatment programs are not free, and they are presented with bills. In practice, however, few such bills are paid by the patient.

        P.S.150 days is approximately 5 months. You can Google it, if you doubt this statistic.
        P.P.S.NYC is in the USA. You can Google that too.

        • bob

          the study was done in toronto but if you actually read the article it was based off a study done in NY

          and yes, of course not “free” in the sense that they dont get a bill but de facto “free” because they obviously dont pay and there is nothing that anyone can do about it, hence i used that word to describe their stay

          in regards to the hospitals around where i live, as i said elsewhere, when they finally do discharge them and they leave, the hospitals give them hotel vouchers for them to have further housing, all on the taxpayer. whether or not THIS practice is required by law, who knows. at least the hotel is about 20x cheaper a day than staying in a hospital.. but most just bounce right back into the hospital once the hotel kicks them out

  • Wondering

    If the goal was to raise money to treat a desperately ill child, that goal was accomplished. No foul, no harm. The mother wasn’t looking to profit from this. I’m sorry the mod had to resort to these tactics to get attention and that his career is ruined. It would be very different if a woman claimed to have a sick child and spent the money on herself.

    The US medical system would probably have treated the child, but that would depend on the state, the city, the phase of the moon. It can be pretty arbitrary. There are plenty of people here who would like to see a return to workhouses and debtors’ prisons.

  • PeterScriabin

    Not all the Chinese commenters seem to have had access to all the information presented on CS.

    There seem to be plenty of people in China with very good hearts. Shaoxia gave a new demonstration of that, whatever else. Let’s not forget, next time we’re berating Chinese people in general, 好不好?

    IMO, if Xie Sanxiu returns all the excess donations, or at least publicly, and accountably re-donates them to other such causes, then there would be no bad taste left in the mouths of donors. Otherwise, there very well might. A scam to buy a baby an operation is one thing, but a scam to fund its 401K is a bit different.

    • Wondering

      I have no idea what the medical system is like in China, but in reality, this child, if she survives, is going to need ongoing care. One operation wouldn’t be enough. She’ll need the initial surgery to remove the tumor, then radiation and/or chemo, then reconstructive surgery. Probably physical therapy. I doubt there is any excess money, or even enough money.

      • PeterScriabin

        Good point. I’ve no clue about the medical aspect. But it seems they asked for 20,000 RMB (and I did think: “Wow, that’s not much for such an operation!”). Perhaps that was another marketing maneuver?

        Branching out a bit: I once went to a hospital in a medium-sized city in Guangdong (also another time in Wuhan, Hubei), for ordinary outpatient treatment. I was very impressed with the system in terms of affordability and quality of treatment by the doctors. Sure, you had to line up for each stage of each process, but the overall waits were on the whole shorter than many times I’ve been in for non-emergency care in USA and UK.

        I do not know about other hospitals in China than where I’ve been (except for the newspaper articles we all read about huge lines, and fighting, in certain cases, certain places), but I felt that USA could learn a hell of a lot from their practices. Money-saving and just as dignified as the average cheapo, urban clinic. The doctors seemed to know what was going on. For once I didn’t have to bribe anyone for anything either.

  • Oh My!

    I have been thinking of this for x36h +

    song of the article

    The Proclaimers
    -500 miles

    to be or not to be bitch

    • bile bilgewater

      brilliant, now that song is stuck in my head, thanks.

  • Koreansentry

    This explains why there’s so many fabricated news from China, everything from milk to reports from TV/newspapers are all fake in China.

  • Charly

    I recently had surgery on my nose (deviated septum) and for that I stayed 4 days in the hospital;
    Total cost : 40$ per night… and that’s all.

    Welcome in France

  • Xiao en

    As a parent there is nothing we will not do to help our child when they are ill injured. This is yet another example of a mothers love.

    • Stu

      But don’t forget that it’s also yet another example of an appallingly unfair healthcare system…