‘Memory map’ sees abducted child reunited with his mother 30 years later

reunited with his mother
Image: WEibo

A Chinese man who was abducted at just four years old has been reunited with his mother 30 years later after drawing a map of his childhood village from memory. Li Jingwei was lured away from his home in Yunnan province and sold into a child trafficking ring.

On Christmas Eve, Li Jingwei shared a hand-drawn map to the video-sharing app, Douyin, and as it was shared around police picked up it and were able to match it to a small village. There also found out that a woman within the village had a son who disappeared around the same time as Mr Li. After DNA tests were completed on the pair, they were reunited on Saturday 1 January.

Video footage of the reunion shared online shows the two meeting for the first time in more than 30 years and Li Jingwei breaking down and crying when he sees his mother’s face. “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 from near the south-western city of Zhaotong in 1989. He was then sold to a family living almost 2,000km away. His adoptive parents did not know where he had come from and he had no matches in online DNA databases, so he took to social media to look for help. “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 before he was reunited with his mother.

“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 reports the BBC. Child abductions are not uncommon in China, a society that 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.

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