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Map drawn from memory helps reunite kidnapped Chinese man with family

Image source, Getty Images

A Chinese man who was abducted over 30 years ago has been reunited with his biological mother after drawing a map of his childhood village from memory.

Li Jingwei was just four-years-old when he was lured away from his home and sold into a child trafficking ring.

On 24 December he shared a hand-drawn map to the video sharing app, Douyin, which police matched to a small village and a woman whose son had disappeared.

After DNA tests, they were reunited in Yunnan province on Saturday.

Video footage of the reunion showed the pair meeting for the first time in over three decades and shows Li Jingwei carefully removing his mother’s coronavirus mask to examine her face before breaking down in tears and embracing her.

“Thirty-three years of waiting, countless nights of yearning, and finally a map hand-drawn from memory, this is the moment of perfect release after 13 days,” Mr Li wrote on his Douyin profile ahead of the anticipated reunion. “Thank you, everyone who has helped me reunite with my family.”

Mr Li was abducted near the south-western city of Zhaotong in Yunnan Province in 1989 and subsequently sold to a family living over 1,800km away.

Now living in Guangdong Province in southern China, he had no success asking his adoptive parents or consulting DNA databases about his origins. So he turned to the internet.

“I’m a child who’s finding his home. I was taken to Henan by a bald neighbour around 1989, when I was about four years old,” he said in the video, which was shared thousands of times.

“This is a map of my home area that I have drawn from memory,” he said holding up a rough guide of the village, which included features like a building he believed to be a school, a bamboo forest, and a small pond.

Child abductions are not uncommon in China, a society which places high value on having a son.

Many children are abducted at a young age and sold to other families. In 2015, it was estimated that 20,000 children were being abducted each year.

In 2021 there were numerous examples of young men being reunited with their biological parents after long absences.

Last July, Guo Gangtang was reunited with his son 24 years after he was abducted in the province of Shandong.

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