Inkstone
    Apr
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    Apr
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    After 24 years, social media reunites a couple with their missing daughter
    After 24 years, social media reunites a couple with their missing daughter
    SOCIETY

    After 24 years, social media reunites a couple with their missing daughter

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    by
    Zhuang Pinghui and Viola Zhou
    Zhuang Pinghui and
    Viola Zhou
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    Sometimes – just sometimes – social media can be a tool for good, not evil.

    A couple from southwest China who spent 24 years searching for their missing daughter have finally reunited with her on Tuesday, after she responded to their appeal for information on social media.

    In January 1994 Wang Mingqing and his wife Liu Dengying briefly took their eyes off their daughter Qifeng, who wandered off while they were busy running their fruit stall in Chengdu, southwest China.

    Group 5
    Everyone said I did not have a mother. But I do 
    -
    Kang Ying, long-lost daughter
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    The girl’s father told Huaxi Metropolitan Daily: “After we took care of that customer, my daughter was gone. It was only five minutes."

    The couple abandoned their stall to search for their daughter, but for years their efforts appeared to be in vain.

    Driver Wang Mingqing printed fliers and enlisted the help of his passengers in an effort to find his missing daughter.
    Driver Wang Mingqing printed fliers and enlisted the help of his passengers in an effort to find his missing daughter. Photo: QQ

    Although the couple went on to have a second child, they never gave up looking for their daughter.

    In 2015 Wang became a driver with the Uber-like ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing. When he noticed how much his customers were using their phones, he enlisted their help by asking them to post appeals on social media in the hope his missing daughter might see them.

    He also printed and distributed 10,000 fliers that outlined the details of the case, including a description of how the young girl looked when she went missing in January 1994. A local newspaper also published a report about his appeal.

    Over the past three years Wang had been contacted by scores of young women who suspected they might be his daughter, but DNA tests ruled this out.

    Wang Mingqing and Liu Dengying during their 24-year search for their daughter.
    Wang Mingqing and Liu Dengying during their 24-year search for their daughter. Photo: QQ

    There are no official statistics about how many children go missing in China each year, but it is a long-standing problem in the country.

    Every year tens of thousands are believed to be kidnapped, many of whom are then sold on for adoption.

    In March last year, a police officer in Shandong province who specializes in painting suspects’ portraits helped Wang to make two sketches of what his daughter might look like as an adult.  

    The sketch of Wang’s daughter next to an actual photograph.
    The sketch of Wang’s daughter next to an actual photograph. Photo: Xinhua

    Last month, a 27-year-old woman in northeastern Jilin province, some 1,500 miles away, saw the portraits online and realized she might be the girl in question.

    The woman had been told she was adopted, and grew up in a town only 12 miles away from her birth parents, under the name Kang Ying.

    With the help of a non-governmental organization that helps reunite parents with their missing children, the woman – now a mother of two young children – took a DNA test that on Monday confirmed she was Wang’s daughter.

    A picture of the Wangs' daughter before she went missing, next to her photo on her WeChat profile.
    A picture of the Wangs' daughter before she went missing, next to her photo on her WeChat profile. Photo: Sina

    On Monday afternoon, she spoke with Wang through messaging app WeChat.

    “Have a good rest,” Wang told his daughter, his eyes filled with tears. “Dad will come to pick you up tomorrow."

    The next day she arrived in Chengdu with her husband and two children. 

    "Everyone said I did not have a mother. But I do," she told reporters at the local airport. 

    She reunited with her birth parents for the first time in 24 years at Wang's home in Chengdu. 

    Thecover.cn has this footage of their reunion:

    ZHUANG PINGHUI
    ZHUANG PINGHUI
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    Pinghui is a contributor to Inkstone. She reports on China news for the South China Morning Post.

    VIOLA ZHOU
    VIOLA ZHOU
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    Viola is a multimedia producer at Inkstone. Previously, she wrote about Chinese politics for the South China Morning Post.

    ZHUANG PINGHUI
    ZHUANG PINGHUI
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    Pinghui is a contributor to Inkstone. She reports on China news for the South China Morning Post.

    VIOLA ZHOU
    VIOLA ZHOU
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    Viola is a multimedia producer at Inkstone. Previously, she wrote about Chinese politics for the South China Morning Post.

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