A Chinese man who spent 24 years riding a motorcycle across the country searching for his missing son has finally found him.
Guo Gangtang’s experience is what the 2015 road movie Lost and Love, in which Hong Kong actor Andy Lau starred for free, is based on.
The two people accused of abducting Guo’s son in 1997 have been arrested, said the Ministry of Public Security on Tuesday.
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Guo, 51, and his wife cried and hugged their son Guo Xinzhen when the family was finally reunited in Liaocheng, Shandong, on Sunday, state media CCTV reported.
“My baby, you came back!” said the mother whose name was not released, the video report showed.
Only on the road, I felt I am a father, I have no reason to stop [searching]. And it’s impossible for me to stop
“Today is very important for me,” the elder Guo wrote on social media. “My kid has been found. The future is full of happiness. God treats us kindly.”
After hearing the news of Guo’s family’s reunion, actor Lau said in a short video on Tuesday that he felt “happy and thrilled”. He said he got to know Guo through the film.
“I’d like to say to Brother Guo that I admire your persistence. I also want to salute the police authority for their years of efforts,” said Lau, calling on the public to support the police’s anti-abduction work.
The junior Guo was kidnapped by a woman on September 21, 1997, when he was playing alone outside his home in the village of Liaocheng. He was two and a half years old at that time.
The loss of the boy was such a shock to his father that his weight dropped from 80kg to 60kg and his hair turned all white in the first month after the abduction.
Since then, Guo Gangtang has printed his son’s picture and basic information on countless flyers to pass to whoever he met on the street, hoping to find clues about the boy’s whereabouts.
He also made banners carrying his son’s photo and information and put them on his motorcycle that he rode around the mainland in the search of the boy.
Over the past 24 years, Guo has been to all mainland provinces and regions except Tibet and Xinjiang, with his journey covering half a million kilometres. He has worn out 10 motorcycles during this time.
“Only on the road, I felt I am a father,” he told the Shandong-based Qilu News in 2015 before the movie was released. “I have no reason to stop [searching]. And it’s impossible for me to stop.”
The film contained many incidents that Guo had experienced during his search, such as road accidents, bullying from hooligans, and sleeping near bridge pillars when he had no money for accommodation. The movie ended with the main character not succeeding in finding his lost son.
Guo said he once thought of suicide but changed his mind after seeing his son’s photo on his motorcycle’s banners. “My son seemed to be saying to me, ‘Dad, Xiao Liu [the boy’s nickname] is accompanying you in the rainstorm,’” Guo was quoted as saying.
“Many people say I am a great father. But I am not great at all,” said Guo. “I am helpless. I just lack the courage to restart life after experiencing tremendous hardship. Therefore I kept on searching.”
Years ago he set up a website to help people find their lost children and provide information about child safety.
With the clues Guo provided over the past few years, the police have found over 100 abducted children, said the ministry.
Guo’s own dream was finally realised after police in Henan checked the blood of Guo Xinzhen in June and confirmed his identity as the elder Guo’s son.
It was a woman surnamed Tang that abducted the junior Guo, the ministry said. She was the girlfriend of a man with the surname Hu. The couple took the boy to the nearby province of Henan by coach where Hu sold him.
Hu, 56, was in jail in Shanxi for another crime when the police identified him as the suspect in the abduction, while Tang, 45, was apprehended last month.
The authorities have not released more details about the pair.
Peng Sanyuan, director of the film, said the junior Guo has been living not far away from his father’s hometown, the Chutian Metropolis News reports.
“As far as I know, the son has received a university education. The family which has raised him is financially decent,” she was quoted as saying.
Since the ministry launched the Reunion Project at the beginning of last year to speed up the investigation of abduction cases, 2,609 victims have been found, with one case from 61 years ago being solved.
A total of 372 suspects have been arrested for their involvement in 147 child abduction cases, said the ministry.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, or you know someone who is, help is available. For Hong Kong, dial +852 2896 0000 for The Samaritans or +852 2382 0000 for Suicide Prevention Services. In the US, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on +1 800 273 8255. For a list of other nations’ helplines, see this page
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