The saga of a desperate dad whose son was abducted 24 years ago has come to a surprisingly happy end with a tearful reunion.
Guo Gantang’s son Xinzhen was snatched in front of the family home in Shandong province in China in 1997 when the child was just 2 years old. Guo spent the next two dozen years traveling more than 310,000 miles on 10 different motorbikes to try to find him.
Guo was injured and robbed during his epic search, which inspired the film Lost and Love in 2015 starring Hong Kong actor Andy Lau. He spent the family’s life savings, at times begging for spare change to buy petrol for his bike.
He carried photos of his son and chased down tips that eventually led to the identification of his son’s kidnappers, who China’s Ministry of Public Security described as a couple desperate for money who had spotted the child playing and snatched him to sell to traffickers.
Authorities, inspired by Guo’s determination, also persisted in the search, and eventually identified the couple who sold him and the traffickers who bought him in a nearby province, using DNA from the child’s parents to positively identify him. Those involved in the abduction have been arrested.
Police say the son was in good health but did not disclose how he spent the last 24 years. Some local news reports have suggested he was sold to a childless couple who raised him as their own.
Lau, who played Guo in the film, expressed his joy over the reunion. “I feel extremely happy and inspired today because Brother Guo’s son has finally reunited with his parents after 24 years with the effort of the Chinese authorities,” Lau wrote in a social media post. “I want to tell Brother Guo that I admire his perseverance, and to also thank the authorities for their years of hard work. I hope everyone can join me to support anti-human trafficking, and that more distraught families can be reunited soon.”
During his search, Guo became an important asset to missing-persons organizations in China that unfortunately deal with thousands of abductions a year. The reunion was broadcast on Chinese state television CCTV, during which the mother could be heard crying “My baby, you came back.”
“Now that the child has been found, everything can only be happy from now on,” Guo said during the reunion. “It is an important day for me.”