Australian police probe Sydney boy Aidan Fenton's death

Google Streetview of Pan Health Medical Centre, Sydney Image copyright Google Streetview
Image caption The health centre said they had rented a room to Xiao Hongchi for a health seminar

Australian police are investigating a seven-year-old boy's death following his attendance at a "slapping workshop" by a visiting Chinese therapist.

Aidan Fenton from Sydney, who reportedly suffered from diabetes, was found unconscious at a hotel in a Sydney suburb on Monday.

He and his mother had attended Xiao Hongchi's workshop on alternative therapies at a health centre in Sydney.

Police are reportedly investigating whether he had stopped taking insulin.

What is slapping therapy?

  • Vigorously slapping various parts of the body to draw out from the body what practitioners believe are toxins
  • Has significant following among Chinese communities
  • Critics say it simply results in bruising

What happens at a slapping workshop?

Mr Xiao ran the workshop at the Pan Health Medical Centre in Hurstville, Sydney, from 22-28 April at a cost of AU$1,800 (£928, $1,420).

'Clear the meridians'

The therapist has been interviewed by police and has since left the country, the Sydney Morning Herald said. A spokeswoman for the New South Wales (NSW) police said this was standard procedure following any unexplained death.

NSW police told the BBC ambulance services were called to a hotel in Hurstville after a family member found the boy unconscious.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Traditional Chinese medicine, including cupping therapy (above). is seen as an alternative or a replacement for modern Western practices.

"Paramedics performed CPR on the boy, but he was pronounced dead at the scene, and an investigation into the boy's death is underway," NSW police said in a statement.

Tasly Healthpac Australia, the owner of Pan-Health Management Centre, said in a statement: "We are deeply saddened to learn the unexpected passing of this young boy... from the information that we have, the boy was not a patient of Pan-Health and had not been treated by any of our doctors.

Image caption Xiao Hongchi advocates repeated slapping to clear the blood of toxins

"Mr Xiao rented a room from our centre to conduct what was described to us as a series of health seminars. The boy and his mother were participants in the seminar."

Mr Xiao, a former investment banker, advocates the practise of paida lajin, a therapy which involved slapping and stretching the body to drive out toxins.

"The slapping and stretching work together to clear the meridians of blocks and help the body get rid of disease," he told The Hindu newspaper last month.

He said the practice, taught to him by a Taoist monk, had "cured" several medical conditions at his workshops, including diabetes and hypertension.

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