He, who was 29-inches tall, was in Rome for a television show with other Guinness World Record holders when he fell ill and died Saturday, China Daily reported Tuesday.
He was born in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia with a form of primordial dwarfism. At birth, he was so small he could fit in his parents' hands, his family said.
In 2008, he was recognized by Guinness as the world's smallest man, said Craig Glenday, editor-in-chief of the London-based record-keeping agency.
"From the moment I laid on eyes on him, I knew he was someone special. He had such a cheeky smile and mischievous personality, you couldn't help but be charmed by him," Glenday told The Times of London online in a story published Tuesday.