On September 21, 1997, Guo Xinzhen, a two-and-a-half-year-old boy, was abducted by an unknown person while playing outside his home in China’s Shandong province. After 24 years of searching, the family was able to reconnect with the young man this Tuesday.
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“They have found my son, from now on there is only happiness,” the father, Guo Gangtang, told local media, adding that he would consider the couple who eventually raised their son as “family.” The young man, who is now 26 and a teacher, according to local media, was found in the central province of Henan, adjacent to Shandong.
During these twenty years his father traveled “more than 500,000 kilometers across twenty provinces on ten motorcycles” that broke down during the journey, according to his website. Guo placed banners with the son’s photo on the back of the motorcycles. “Son, where are you?” Said the banners. “Dad is looking for you to come home.”
“Alone on the road looking for my son I felt like a father. I have no reason to stop looking. And it is impossible for me to stop,” said the father in 2015. “If I am at home, the human smuggler is not going to come to give it to me. ”
According to the Ministry of Public Security, in June the Shandong security forces received the tip of a possible match with Guo’s son in Henan province. It is not clear how they identified it, although they said they used “the newest search and comparison methods”. A DNA test was conducted to identify him as Guo Gangtang’s son.
After finding Guo Xinzhen, the police arrested two people suspected of his abduction 24 years ago, a crime they allegedly committed in the hope of selling the minor, reports EFE. According to the state channel CCTV, both detainees have confessed.
Guo Gangtang’s story became popular in China and the film was released in 2015 Lost and love starring Hong Kong star Andy Lau. Upon hearing the news of the reunion, Lau said he was “extremely happy and inspired” and “admired the persistence” of the father. He has also called for support for the government’s campaign against human trafficking.
Due to the knowledge of the case, Guo Xinzhen’s finding has been widely commented on on Chinese social networks. Messages of congratulations to the father abound on the Weibo social network, but also requests for harsh punishment for the kidnappers.
2,609 missing children found
In China, child abduction has been a persistent social problem for decades, although there is no data on how many children have been abducted. According to a report conducted by the United States Department of State in 2015, Chinese government authorities estimated that “less than 10,000 children” they were kidnapped every year. However, according to reports from “media and expert sources” it could be up to 70,000 a year.
This Wednesday, the Ministry of Public Security of China has reported the result of a search campaign for missing children that has found 2,609 minors, according to EFE.
The campaign called “Reunion”, launched at the end of 2020, relies on a DNA base to reunite missing or abducted minors with their families. Technologies such as DNA analysis or facial recognition have helped solve numerous cases that had been stuck for years.
According to the Ministry, the discovery of these minors, many now adults, has led to the arrest of 372 suspects of kidnapping and trafficking.