Chinese Idiom Stories
To Ask a Fox for Its Skin
During the Chou dynasty, there lived a man who wanted to make a fur coat. He knew that fox skin was the best for making fur coats, and so he went out to look for a fox, and asked, "Mr. Fox, would you be willing to cut off your skin and give it to me to make a fur coat?" The fox just walked away, not paying him the slightest attention. So the man kept searching, and he soon came across a second fox, to whom he said, "Brother Fox, your skin would most certainly make a very warm coat. How about letting me cut it off, OK?" But the second fox lowered his head and ran as fast as he could into the mountains.
Today, people often say that asking an evil person to act against his own interest is like "asking a fox for its skin" - a hopeless request.