Thu, February 10, 2011
China > Mainland

Father opens door to family who abducted son

2011-02-10 10:43:02 GMT2011-02-10 18:43:02(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Peng Gaofeng and his lost son Peng Wenle play with an auto model in Pizhou, east China's Jiangsu Province, Feb. 9, 2011.(Xinhua/Zhou Xiaoxiong)

Peng Gaofeng holds his lost son Peng Wenle in his arms in Pizhou, east China's Jiangsu Province, Feb. 9, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhou Xiaoxiong)

Peng Gaofeng carries his lost son Peng Wenle in the back in snow in Pizhou, east China's Jiangsu Province, Feb. 9, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhou Xiaoxiong)

Peng Gaofeng watches his lost son Peng Wenle playing with an auto model in Pizhou, east China's Jiangsu Province, Feb. 9, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhou Xiaoxiong)

Peng Gaofeng holds his lost son Peng Wenle in his arms in Pizhou, east China's Jiangsu Province, Feb. 9, 2011.(Xinhua/Zhou Xiaoxiong)

Peng Gaofeng (C) carries his lost son Peng Wenle in his arms in Pizhou, east China's Jiangsu Province, Feb. 9, 2011.(Xinhua/Zhou Xiaoxiong)

PIZHOU, Jiangsu, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- A man who was reunited with his son three years after the boy was abducted said he would allow the woman whose husband stole the child to stay in touch with him.

"I will let Lele stay in touch with the 'mother'," said Peng Gaofeng, referring to the woman who had "adopted" Peng Wenle (known to his family as Lele).

Peng refused to identify the woman, but said she had treated Lele well and sent him to school in the city of Pizhou, east China's Jiangsu Province.

"I really hate her, but I have determined to give up the right to sue her, because I see my boy is really attached to her. I do not want him to hate me in the future. The only thing I want is his health, both physically and mentally," said Peng, 33.

Lele, now six, was snatched from near the family's shop by a man in black jacket in 2008, sparking a 1,007-day search that came to an end after a stranger uploaded a photo of the boy to a microblog dedicated to rescuing China's stolen children.

The man in the black jacket and his wife raised Lele as their own son, renaming him Han Weicheng, and giving him the pet name Han Longfei. The boy was said to be a good student in the second grade at school.

Since the man died of cancer last year, the adoptive mother and the couple's real teenage daughter had lived an impoverished life, said Peng.

"Her condition was not good, but she still treated my son well and sent him to school," Peng said Thursday as father and son headed back to their small rural home.

The boy waved goodbye to police and reporters as their car pulled away from Pizhou at 9:20 a.m., two days after their reunion under police supervision.

After the abduction, the distraught parents turned to the police, journalists, government officials and even passersby outside their shop. Peng blogged about his efforts and his anguish.

A breakthrough came when a student saw a picture of three-year-old Peng Wenle on a microblog set up by Deng Fei, a reporter at the Phoenix Weekly magazine, to rescue stolen children.

The student recognized the boy in Pizhou, took a photo of him and sent it to the microblog on t.sina.com.cn.

"This is thanks to Deng Fei and the police and all the people who helped me. My suffering has passed," said Peng.

The student's actions had proved decisive and the police had used the picture to track the boy down, he said.

Peng recalled the fear he felt when he first saw Lele: "I was afraid it wasn't him again," he told Xinhua.

"I had been disappointed countless times since the day he was lost. Every new lead ended with a sad result and I dreaded going home to tell my wife," he said.

Deng Fei said the campaign had been initiated by the public and the reunion was a result of public cooperation.

"The microblog is a new channel for netizens to report leads to police and to monitor police handling of these cases," said Deng, who has about 100,000 followers on t.sina.com.cn..

"No one is a hero. We do it because we are also parents," Deng said. "The microblog can gather the power of millions of ordinary people, increasing the chances of finding a lost child in such a large country."

The public campaign to end the scandal of China's stolen children gathered steam last month with the creation of a microblog named "Street Photos to Rescue Child Beggars."

On Thursday, after less than three weeks, its followers numbered 175,000 and it hosted more than 2,500 images of begging children. Many of the followers are official microblogs run by police bureaus across China.

The founders have launched a campaign to rescue children who have been forced to beg, many of them stolen from their families.

The microblog was created by Yu Jianrong of the Rural Development Institute of China Academy of Social Sciences, who hit upon the idea after he received a letter from the distraught parents of an abducted child.

Yu, who established a reputation as a farmers' rights activist, opened two microblogs on t.sina.com.cn and t.qq.com, two popular Twitter-like services.

Two volunteers were working to maintain the microblogs and one full-time employee would be recruited soon, said Hou Zhihui, who writes for the microblog under the pen name "Sesehou."

"We are touched by people's enthusiasm, but we cannot only rely on passion," said Hou, who works as director of video-on-demand company Funshion.

"The microblog cannot play the key role in rescue work. That is for the police and they have been making great efforts," he said.

Some commentators have speculated that child abductors might harm children if they see their pictures on the microblogs.

"It's not us who hurt them," said Hou. "It's us who try to save them. They are already harmed, but it's true that rescue methods need to be improved."

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