China’s Netizens Help Reunite Father and Son

Rob Schmitz Feb 10, 2011

Here’s a story that challenges the commonly-held notion in the West that the Chinese don’t care much for coming together for a charitable cause (highlighted last year during the much publicized Gates/Buffet billionaire banquet fiasco in Beijing): Peng Gaofeng has been searching for his son Wenle since 2008, when the boy, then 3 years old, disappeared from a public square near Peng’s shop. Since then, Peng has traveled throughout China looking for his son, and a journalist helped him post his son’s photos to a microblog.

Earlier this month, a netizen contacted Peng, telling him he saw a boy resembling his son. On Tuesday, Peng was reunited with his son. Phoenix Weekly Reporter Deng Fei filmed the emotional reunion. Watch the video, which was edited and translated by the Wall Street Journal, after the jump.

This case highlights how microblogs (Twitter is one example familiar with Americans–not as much for Chinese, as it’s banned here) in China are increasingly being used to organize for a special cause; in this case, widespread child abduction (State media in China estimates 200,000 children are abducted a year in China–many by human trafficking gangs).

Last month, scholar Yu Jianrong, launched a microblog that now serves as a repository where internet users post pictures of children begging throughout China to help connect them with their parents. Yu says he’s received four calls from parents who tell him they’ve seen what they think are their children on his blog. None of the cases have been resolved yet. In Peng’s case, he told the press that he believed his son’s abductor took him to raise as his own son. The abductor allegedly died last year of cancer.

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