Millions of Chinese hearts have been warmed by the tale of a couple reunited with their daughter after 24 years of searching and self-reproach.
Wang Mingqing and his wife Liu Dengying worked as fruit sellers on the streets of Chengdu when their toddler Qifeng vanished in 1994.
Wang had briefly left the three-year-old alone while he went to a neighbouring stall to get change for a customer. When he returned the girl had gone, prompting a desperate hunt that spanned more than two decades.
“Our daughter only knew our first names and did not know where we lived,” her mother, Liu, recalled in a tearful TV interview. “For the next six months, I would walk and my husband would ride his bike searching for her. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
Years later, Wang became a taxi driver and scoured the city of 14 million people during his work hours. He put a sign up on the window of the car, printed business cards with his daughter’s information and would tell every passenger willing to listen what had happened.
His story was picked up first by local newspapers and then the national broadcaster, China Central Television, but it was not until this year, when a police sketch artist drew an image of what his daughter might look like as an adult, that the case reached her attention.
Qifeng, now 27 and living thousands of miles away in the northern province of Jilin, had been told by her adopted parents that she was found on the road, and she had long been curious about her biological mother and father.
When they were reunited this week, Wang hugged his daughter, saying: “From now on, your father is here.” Images of the reunion were shown on TV and on social media. “You don’t need to worry about anything,” he continued. “Your father will support you.”