Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
August 11, 2021 ·  4 min read

Father who never stopped searching for abducted son reunited after 24 years

Guo Xinzhen was only two years old when he was stolen from his front lawn by human traffickers. This occurred in eastern China in 1997 and his parents never stopped their search for him. His father, Guo Gangtang, traveled all over China on his motorcycle, displaying a flag with his son’s picture and handing out fliers. He was homeless and broke at many points, begging for money and sleeping under bridges. He faced highway robbers, got severely injured in car crashes, and burned through 10 motorcycles. Until last month. Twenty-four years after his kidnapping, Guo Gangtang and his wife, Zhang Wenge, finally reunited with their abducted son. 

24 Years of Searching

In September 1997, an unknown woman abducted Guo’s two-year-old son. Soon after, over 500 people searched for him but no one found anything. However, Guo never stopped looking for his boy. “I thought maybe there is a ray of hope to find my son if I go out searching for him,” he said. “The kidnapper would never send my son back anyway. If I stayed at home, there is no chance. So, since the end of 1997, I began the search for my son.”

At his lowest point, he had thoughts of suicide. “Only on the road, I felt I am a father,” he said in an interview in 2015. “I have no reason to stop [searching]. And it’s impossible for me to stop.” 

In another interview, he dismissed those who praise his efforts. “Many people say I am a great father. But I am not great at all. I am helpless. I just lack the courage to restart life after experiencing tremendous hardship. Therefore I kept on searching.[1]

Guo became a renowned member of a missing-persons organization. He helped at least 7 other couples reunite with their abducted children as he peeled back details of human trafficking. He began to carry multiple missing-person papers in addition to his son’s. His years of searching grew into fame when a film about his story was released in 2015. It was called Lost and Love, starring Andy Lau.

Reunited With Their Abducted Son

However, the real Hollywood ending occurred when Guo Xinzhen, finally reunited with his family in Shandong’s Liaocheng City. “My baby, you came back!” said the mother in the viral video. Guo told reporters, “Now that the child has been found, everything can only be happy from now on.” [2]

Lau posted his congratulations online and encouraged people to combat child trafficking. “I met Mr. Guo because of the film Lost and Love,” he said. “Today, I feel very happy and very excited, because Guo’s abducted son was finally reunited with his parents after 24 years, thanks to the efforts of public security organs“. He added that he admired Guo’s persistence. [3]

DNA tracing aided this happy ending, according to the Ministry of Public Security. In fact, Ministry of Public Security criminal investigation bureau deputy director Tong Bishan said that they collected DNA samples from people in Henan as the search narrowed down the suspects. This led to the arrest of a man and woman in Shanxi province. The couple was dating at the time of the kidnapping and intended to sell the boy for money. The woman abducted Guo’s son and took him to the bus station where her partner waited. Then they took an intercity coach to a Henan province close by and sold him. They confessed to trafficking three boys and have yet to stand trial.

More Happy Endings

In fact, according to the Chinese police, they had rescued over 2,000 missing people since they launched a campaign last January. Hopefully, there will be more happy endings to stories like Guo Xinzhen and Guo Gangtang’s. Child abduction and trafficking is a rampant issue in China, exacerbated by the one-child policy (which has lessened recently) and a society that desires sons over daughters, leading to a black market for stolen infant boys. Fortunately, the government is taking measures to crack down on this horrible problem. [4]

In the meantime, now 26-years old, Guo Xinzhen plans on continuing living in Henan while visiting his parents regularly. “He is a great father,” Guo Xinzhen said to reporters. “I am proud of him.[5]


  1. “Man Reunites with Son 24 Years After His Kidnapping in China: ‘The Future Is Full of Happiness’.People. Joelle Goldstein. July 14, 2021
  2. “Man in China reunited with son snatched 24 years ago.” BBC. July 13, 2021
  3. “After scouring China for 24 years on a motorbike, a determined father is reunited with his abducted son.” ABC. July 14, 2021
  4. “This family’s 24-year search for their abducted son inspired a movie. They’ve just been reunited.” CNN. Jessie Yeung. July 14, 2021
  5. “These Parents Were Reunited With Their Son After He Was Abducted 24 Years Ago.NPR. July 14, 2021