It is estimated that up to 20,000 children in China are kidnapped every year. Some are sold to gangs to be used as beggars, others to families who don’t have a son but want one. Most are never recovered.
[Kidnapped child] little Lele’s family… found help from Deng Fei, a journalist, who has a massive following on the internet.
Twitter-type microblogs took off in popularity in China last year. Well over 100 million people now use them. Deng Fei tweeted Lele’s picture to his two million followers. Someone saw it and spotted the boy in Jiangsu province, 2,000km away from where he was kidnapped.
So Lele’s father headed there. Overcome with emotion he waited outside the police station as officers went to investigate the sighting. They returned with his son.
Peng Gaofeng shouted the boy’s name. Lele replied: “That man crying is my father.” It was all filmed and tweeted live by journalist Deng Fei.
Inside the police station Peng Gaofeng called his wife to tell her the news, breaking down in sobs as he told her the boy had been found. Then he clutched Lele close and told him: “No matter where you go, I will find you.”
A new online campaign to publish photographs of child beggars is helping to reunite children who have been kidnapped with their families.
On Thursday, the Ministry announced that people can call the number 110 if they believe that a child has been a victim of human trafficking and made to beg. The campaign was initiated by Professor Yu Jianrong of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The police’s decision to involve ordinary citizens in anti-trafficking activities comes after the January 25 launch of a similar initiative by online bloggers and internet communities. Professor Jianrong has urged ordinary citizens to take picture of children they suspect of being forced to beg and posting them on micro-blogs.