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Their son went missing in 1997 but they never stopped looking. Today, they reunited with him 24 years later

Guo Gangtang's search for his son, which involved him driving 3,000 miles across China in 10 motorcycles, also inspired a movie.

Their son went missing in 1997 but they never stopped looking. Today, they reunited with him 24 years later
Image source: CCTV

Guo Xinzhen went missing as a 2-year-old in 1997, sparking a nationwide search for him. This week police has announced that Guo had been found and reunited with his parents. "We found you, you've come back," his family said as they embraced him and broke down in tears, ending a 24-year search for the boy who was abducted as a 2-year-old. Guo Xinzhen's father's search had made national newspapers back in the day and served as inspiration for the movie titled Lost and Love. Guo's parents, who were farmers, told cops that their son was abducted near his home by an unfamiliar woman in 1997, reported CNN.



Earlier this week, the police in Liaocheng City, Shandong province, announced that they had matched Guo's DNA collected all those years ago, with an adult living in a neighboring Henan province. The cops also announced that they had arrested two people responsible for kidnapping and trafficking Guo. When the 2-year-old went missing in 1997, the authorities had collected blood, DNA samples, and other evidence but didn't really have technology at their disposal to really make anything of it. They couldn't trace Guo at the time but the case was never closed, with cops investigating the case throughout the 24 years.



Gangtang's 24-year search for his son 
It was Guo Xinzhen's father who brought the case of his missing child into the national spotlight at the time. Guo Gangtang rode a motorbike across China's provinces covering 310,685 miles in search of his son, reported news agency Xinhua. He didn't carry much on him and his bag only contained fliers of his son that he distributed through his journey. He also had a flag emblazoned with a picture of his two-year-old son. The journey saw him use 10 different motorcycles but he never managed to find him. The search for his son burned a huge hole in his pocket and he ended up racking huge debt. Guo Gangtang's search for his son inspired the 2015 movie Lost and Love, and starred Hong Kong actor Andy Lau. Even as the years passed, Gangtang never stopped searching for his son. Andy Lau posted a message on his Facebook page after Gangtang found his son and wished them the best. 


While he couldn't track down his own son, he helped find 100 other abducted children and reunited them with their families, according to Xinhua. Technological progress has enabled authorities to use features such as DNA analysis and facial feature comparison in solving kidnapping cases. It was earlier this year, that the Ministry of Public Security found a potential match in Henan. Police officers tracked the man and confirmed via DNA testing that he was indeed the missing Guo Xinzhen.



The cops then tracked down the suspected child trafficker, who was identified to the media as Hu, and his ex-girlfriend, identified as Tang. On interrogation, Tang confessed to abducting Guo Xinzhen in 1997. Tang said she kidnapped the baby before joining Hu, who was in a relationship with her at the time. They took a bus to Henan where they sold the child. The police don't have any information on who bought Gou from them. The police also withheld information on Gou's upbringing. 

Child trafficking problem in China
China's one-child policy back then was partly responsible for the rise in child abduction and trafficking. Many couples wanted to have a boy child, and this created a black market for trafficked infant boys, while some were abducted and sold as infants. Similarly, girls were sold to foreign adoptive parents, falsely labeled as orphans. The Chinese government has now relaxed the rule, allowing couples to have up to three children. The government launched a national DNA database in 2009 and an online anti-trafficking platform in 2016 to find abducted children and have managed to find more than 4,700 missing children in the past five years, reported Xinhua.

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