Man Kidnapped When He Was Eight Returns Home 21 Years Later

A man has been reunited with his family after being kidnapped more than 21 years ago.

Xu Wenbin was abducted by a man on his way home from school in 1998 when he was only eight years old.

The native of Chenggu County, Hanzhong, in China's north-western Shaanxi Province, was then sold 750 miles away to a family in Jing County in northern Hebei Province.


He was renamed Zhang Hao but always remembered his biological parents and dreamed of being reunited with them over the course of the next two decades.

His parents spent years searching for him alongside police, to no avail, and in 2000 his parents provided DNA samples for a national database. The breakthrough came last year when Mr Hao - now 29 - entered his DNA into the database.

It is unclear why Mr Hao waited so long to contact the authorities about finding his mum and dad, but the police confirmed his identity through further DNA tests and finally brought him back home on 28 March. It is also unclear what sort of life he has lived since his abduction and whether his foster parents have faced any charges.

A ceremony was held to mark the family reunion last week and Mr Hao and his mum can be seen hugging each other and crying in pictures and videos.

Mr Hao has not seen his family for 21 years. Credit: AsiaWire
Mr Hao has not seen his family for 21 years. Credit: AsiaWire

Ji Shaojie, a police officer who worked on the case, said: "DNA technology was not sufficiently developed at the time [of the kidnapping]. His parents searched and the police searched for many years but came up empty.

"Around 2000, his parents provided their DNA samples for the national database. Their kidnapped son entered the database in 2018, then a match was found."

The man who abducted Mr Hao reportedly offered him a type of dumpling called a momo and encouraged him to follow him. He has not been caught.

Mr Hao, right, was only eight years old when he was abducted. Credit: AsiaWire
Mr Hao, right, was only eight years old when he was abducted. Credit: AsiaWire

Child abduction is a serious problem in China, in large part due to the country's one-child policy, which was introduced in 1979 and eliminated in 2015.

The preference for sons can lead to abductions, while the disproportionately low amount of women in the country can make it hard for men to find wives, which can result in girls being sold as 'child brides'.

Last month, Chinese politician Zhang Baoyan proposed the introduction of the death penalty for convicted child traffickers, arguing that the current penalty of five to 10 years imprisonment was an insufficient deterrent.

Featured Image Credit: AsiaWire

Jake Massey

Jake Massey is a journalist at LADbible. He graduated from Newcastle University before going to live in Australia and New Zealand for a few years, where he wrote a travel blog. He has previously written for the Eastern Daily Press, Giggle Beats, CALM and Front Magazine. Jake enjoys playing football, listening to music and writing about himself in the third person.

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