China: Father reunited with kidnapped son after 24-year search

A father was reunited with his son after a 24-year search that saw him travel half a million kilometres across China on a motorcycle, chasing tip-offs on the boy’s possible whereabouts.

Guo Gangtang’s son was just two years and five months old when he was abducted from in front of the family home in China’s eastern Shandong province, where he was playing unattended.

Traffickers snatched the boy and sold him to a family in central China, the ministry of public security said on Tuesday.

Kidnapping and child trafficking became widespread in China in the 1980s, when the draconian one-child rule was enforced, and a cultural obsession with sons fuelled demand for abducted boys.

After years of searching, police told Guo on Sunday that a DNA test confirmed a 26-year-old teacher living in central Henan province was his long-lost son.

“Now that the child has been found, everything can only be happy from now on,” Guo said in a video released by state media.

After his son was abducted in 1997, then-27-year-old Guo quit his job and crisscrossed the country on a motorbike with large flags bearing his son’s photo tied to the back.

His 500,000km crusade that included battling highway robbers, sleeping under bridges, and even begging when his money ran out — he also inspired blockbuster Chinese movie Lost and Love.

Across the years, Guo has helped seven other families find their lost children and raised awareness about child trafficking.

Guo told reporters he earlier visited the city where his son grew up to help another father find his kidnapped boy.

Two suspects linked to the case have been arrested, state-run Global Times reported.

Since the launch of a DNA database of missing family members in 2016, police said they have helped more than 2,600 individuals kidnapped as children, some more than 60 years ago to fund their parents.