Family reunited after 24-year search for son

The 51-year-old Guo Gangtang and his wife reunited on Sunday with their missing son, Guo Xinzhen, who was abducted in 1997 at the age of 2 in Shandong province.

A father whose search for his abducted boy was turned into a movie has been reunited with his son after 24 years, following a successful police campaign launched in January.

Guo Gangtang, 51, and his wife were reunited with their son Guo Xinzhen in Liaocheng, Shandong province, on Sunday. The Ministry of Public Security held a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday to release details of the case as well as photos of the reunion.

“Today is very important for me,” Guo Gangtang posted on a Chinese news and information content platform on Sunday. “My kid has been found. The future is full of happiness.”

When asked in a China Central Television interview how he would get along with his son’s adoptive parents, Guo Gangtang said he would “just treat them as relatives”. He added if Guo Xinzhen wanted to be filial to his adoptive parents, he would respect his son’s decision.

Guo Xinzhen went missing in September 1997, at age 2 and a half, while he was playing near the family home in Liaocheng.

Police investigated his disappearance and collected blood samples from the parents, but there was no breakthrough in the case until this year. In January, the Ministry of Public Security launched operation Tuanyuan, meaning “reunion”, to find missing children. A total of 3,000 free blood testing sites were established nationwide and nearly 10,000 people volunteered to have blood samples taken.

In June 2021, police in Henan province made a DNA match with a blood sample from Guo Xinzhen and the record of the samples his parents had given in 2000.

A male suspect and a female suspect have been taken into custody for questioning, police said on Tuesday. Early investigations found the pair were lovers and may have abducted the boy when they were traveling in Shandong. They took a long-distance bus back to Henan and allegedly sold the boy. No further details of the case were given by police.

Guo Gangtang’s quest to find his son was portrayed in the 2015 movie Lost and Love starring Hong Kong actor Andy Lau.

The father decided to leave his hometown to look for his son alone, riding a motorcycle and carrying a flag with information about the boy printed on it.

He went through 10 motorcycles and traveled to all of China’s provinces and regions over two decades, with the exception of the Tibet and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions.

Guo Gangtang once said in an interview: “China is so big that finding a child is like looking for a needle in a haystack, but at least I have hope. It’s only when I’m on the road to search for my son that I feel like I am a father.”

Lau said in a video posted on Tuesday that “I felt really happy and excited to hear that Guo was reunited with his abducted son after 24 years.

“I call on all people to join me in supporting the anti-trafficking work and hope that more separated families can be reunited as soon as possible.”

While searching for his son, Guo voluntarily participated in anti-trafficking activities and provided information about missing and abducted children to the police.

Through the information he provided, public security officers found more than 100 abducted children.

Since January, public security authorities nationwide have found 2,609 missing and abducted children, one of whom had been missing for 61 years. They have also resolved 147 cases of child abduction and trafficking and arrested 372 suspects.

Post time: Jul-14-2021