Mother Still Looking for Abducted Son After 25 Years

Her son got kidnapped, her husband committed suicide. Twenty-five years later, the 51-year-old Zhang Xuexia from Guizhou is still searching for her lost child. Zhang’s case, once again, turns public attention to the long-standing problem of child abduction in China.

25 years ago, the son of Zhang Xuexia (张雪霞) from south-central China (Guizhou) was taken away at the age of 3 while playing outside. In 2006, after searching for their child for 15 years, Zhang’s husband committed suicide by jumping from a building after leaving a note saying: “I just want my son,” People’s Daily writes.

In this article, People’s Daily Fujian describes how Zhang has spent the last 25 years of her life travelling to various places in China, giving out pamphlets and talking to people, in hopes of finding back her son. She has not given up the search after her husband’s death; instead, she is more determined to fulfill his final wish of finding their child.

Zhang does not travel alone. With her is Zhang Guihong from Hunan – her son was also kidnapped, in 1998, at the age of 4. Both mothers get help from volunteers from the Chinese organization “Bring our babies home” (宝贝回家) that helps parents to find their kidnapped children.

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Child abduction is a long-standing problem in China. Statistics on yearly cases vary depending on different sources. Official statistics are saying there are about 10,000 kids abducted every year, but third party institutions estimate a number that is seven times as high, reaching 70,000 yearly cases.

It is generally assumed it is the old Chinese preference for boys in thinking “boys are more important than girls” (重男轻女) that causes the illegal market demand where boys are bought and girls are sold. According to the national statistics report, the trafficking of boys is usually related to illegal adoption, whereas kidnapping of girls often involves sex trade. The lack of a national tracking system for missing people in China makes it hard to track and rescue missing persons (also read our article about the Stolen Children of China).

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The United Nations website points out that most abduction cases take place in the provinces with China’s lowest GDP per capita, Yunnan and Guizhou, and that those with some of the highest GDPs, Fujian, Guangdong, and Shangdong, are the main destination provinces for child trafficking.

In the case of Zhang, there were indications that her son was abducted to Fujian Province, but her searches in the province have had no results thus far.

In the interview, Zhang says that quitting the search for her son is not an option, as she feels she cannot enjoy her life if she has no answers about the whereabouts of her son, who must now be 28 years old.

Zhang has set up a Weibo and WeChat account to find her son, hoping to get in touch with people who know more about the selling and buying of children from her hometown to Fujian around 1991.

On Weibo, Zhang’s story is being shared by multiple news accounts.
“How is she able to endure this for 25 years?” one netizen wonders: “I feel the pain of this mother.” Another Weibo user comments: “Child traffickers deserve to die.” “It’s not just the traffickers,” another person says: “it’s also the buyers. If there would be no demand, there would be no market – they deserve the same punishment as the traffickers.”

– By Manya Koetse

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