For practically 24 years, the daddy crossed China by bike. With banners displaying images of a 2-year-old boy flying from the again of his bike, he traveled greater than 300,000 miles, all in pursuit of 1 purpose: discovering his kidnapped son.
This week, Guo Gangtang’s search lastly ended. He and his spouse had been reunited with their son, now 26, after the police matched their DNA, based on China’s public safety ministry.
In a scene captured by Chinese state tv, the trio clung to one another tearfully at a information convention on Sunday in Liaocheng, Mr. Guo’s hometown in northern Shandong Province.
“My darling, my darling, my darling,” Mr. Guo’s spouse, Zhang Wenge, sobbed as she embraced the younger man. “We found you, my son, my son.”
“He’s been delivered into your hands, so you need to love him well,” Mr. Guo stated, attempting to consolation her whilst his personal voice shook.
The obvious pleased ending captivated China, the place Mr. Guo has turn into one thing of a people hero. His cross-country odyssey, throughout which he stated he was thrown from his bike at the least as soon as and slept outside when he couldn’t afford a resort, impressed the 2015 movie “Lost and Love,” starring the famend Hong Kong actor Andy Lau.
After the reunion, Chinese social media crammed with congratulatory messages. Hashtags in regards to the Guo household had been seen tons of of thousands and thousands of occasions. “Today, ‘Lost and Love’ finally has a real happy ending,” the film’s director, Peng Sanyuan, stated in a video on Douyin, a social media app.
Child abduction is a longstanding drawback in China. There are not any official statistics on the variety of youngsters kidnapped annually, however officers on the Ministry of Public Security stated this month that they’d positioned 2,609 lacking or kidnapped youngsters up to now this 12 months. Various stories estimate the variety of youngsters kidnapped yearly in China could also be as excessive as 70,000.
Historically, little one abduction was linked, at the least in half, to China’s one-child coverage. At the peak of the coverage’s enforcement in the 1980s and 1990s, some resorted to purchasing younger boys on the black market to make sure they’d have a son, based on analysis by students at Xiamen University in Fujian Province. Chinese society has historically favored sons.
Andy Lau and Jing Boran in the 2015 movie “Lost and Love,” which is predicated on Mr. Guo’s story. “Today, ‘Lost and Love’ finally has a real happy ending,” stated the film’s director, Peng Sanyuan.Credit…China Lion
As the central authorities started easing enforcement of the coverage in the early 2000s — earlier than ending it in 2015 — reported abductions fell sharply. Technological advances corresponding to a nationwide DNA database of lacking youngsters, stiffer felony penalties and better public consciousness of kid trafficking have additionally helped curb the issue, stated Zhang Zhiwei, government director of an anti-trafficking middle on the China University of Political Science and Law.
Still, the specter of abduction continues to weigh on many Chinese. On Monday, a number of police departments in the japanese metropolis of Hangzhou issued statements denying viral rumors about tried kidnappings.
Mr. Guo’s son, named Guo Xinzhen at delivery, disappeared on Sept. 21, 1997. He had been enjoying on the door of his residence whereas his mom cooked inside, based on interviews the elder Mr. Guo has given through the years.
A frantic Mr. Guo and his spouse, together with household, neighbors and buddies, fanned out throughout the area to seek for the boy. But after a number of months, the trouble waned. That was when Mr. Guo connected massive banners printed along with his son’s picture to the again of a bike and got down to discover the boy on his personal.
“Son, where are you?” the banners stated, alongside a picture of the boy in a puffy orange jacket. “Dad is looking for you to come home.”
Over the years, Mr. Guo wore out 10 bikes, touring from Hainan in the south to Henan in the north, chasing down any tidbits of data, he has stated. Once, on a wet day, a rock slipped off a truck mattress in entrance of him, sending his bike toppling. He had so many near-miss site visitors incidents that he misplaced depend. But he all the time set out once more.
“If I’m at home, the human trafficker is not going to deliver him back to me,” he stated in a 2015 interview with state tv.
In 2012, Mr. Guo based a corporation to assist different dad and mom discover their lacking youngsters, and he stated he has helped dozens of different households discover their family members, whilst his personal search remained unsuccessful. His story rose to nationwide prominence with the 2015 movie. Earlier this 12 months he additionally started selling anti-trafficking consciousness on the social media app Douyin, the place he had gained tens of 1000’s of followers even earlier than his son was discovered.
The actor Andy Lau selling the movie “Lost and Love” in 2015. Mr. Guo’s search rose to nationwide prominence when the film got here out.Credit…Visual China Group, through Getty Images
The newest growth in Mr. Guo’s story additionally appeared like one thing straight out of a screenwriter’s creativeness.
In June, regulation enforcement officers in Shandong obtained discover of a possible match for Mr. Guo’s son in Henan Province, based on the general public safety ministry. It was not instantly clear how officers had recognized him, although they stated they’d used “the newest comparison and search methods.” Further blood work confirmed that the 26-year-old man, who some native information stories stated was working as a trainer, was Mr. Guo’s son.
The authorities later stated that they’d arrested a lady surnamed Tang and a person surnamed Hu. According to the state information media, Ms. Tang snatched the boy and delivered him to Mr. Hu, who then offered him. CCTV, the state broadcaster, stated the 2 had confessed.
Ahead of the reunion, a dazed Mr. Guo and his spouse purchased greater than 1,000 kilos of sweet to distribute to neighbors in celebration. Mr. Guo additionally cleaned out his residence, tossing out outdated belongings to commemorate a brand new starting.
In an interview forward of the reunion with Chen Luyu, a talk-show host, the dad and mom veered between jubilation and paralysis. Sitting at their eating desk, Ms. Zhang, Mr. Guo’s spouse, broke down a number of occasions, questioning if their son would blame her for not watching him carefully sufficient.
Mr. Guo stated he bore no resentment towards the couple that had raised his son. How his son would deal with that couple going ahead was as much as him, he stated.
“If the child wants to be filial to his adopted parents, then you just need to openly and sincerely accept that,” he stated.
State media stories stated that the youthful Mr. Guo had stated he would proceed dwelling with the couple that had raised him, who he stated had handled him effectively. But he stated he would go to his delivery dad and mom usually.
The elder Mr. Guo advised Ms. Chen, the tv host, that he was content material with regardless of the future introduced.
“Our child has been found,” he stated. “From now on, only happiness is left.”