Chinese Micro-Bloggers Rescue Toddler

The six-year-old climbed out of the car and the crowd in the town of Qianjiang swept forward to see him. His grandfather picked him up, hugged him tight and wept.

Peng Wenle’s story has gripped many in China, the tale of a boy kidnapped three years ago, and returned to his family last week, thanks to Twitter-like micro-blogs.

Security cameras filmed the kidnap, a man carrying the boy away in the night. Despite the video evidence the police could not find Wenle.

But it wasn’t the police who found the boy; it was Wenle’s own father, Peng Gaofeng – a poor, migrant worker, who solved this crime using Twitter-type microblogs.

He found help from Deng Fei, a journalist, who has a massive following on the Internet.

Micro-blogs took off in popularity in China last year with well over 100 million people now using them.

Deng Fei tweeted Wenle’s picture to his two million followers. Someone saw it and spotted the boy in Jiangsu province, 1200 miles away, where police were able to recover Wenle.

Peng Gaofeng shouted the boy’s name. Wenle replied: “That man crying is my father.” It was all filmed and tweeted live by journalist Deng Fei.

Peng Gaofeng clutched Wenle close and told him: “No matter where you go, I will find you.”

China’s people, for so long controlled or ignored by the state, are discovering the power of the micro-blog. It can force change, says Deng Fei.

“Things can no longer be kept secret,” says Deng Fei. “Microblogs break the monopoly on information. A lot of things in China are caused by the lack of transparency here. So a lot of things will change now.”

Wenle’s story transfixed many because it is much more than a kidnap with a happy ending. It’s also a tale about the way the Internet is starting to change lives in China.

Complete articles via BBC and China Daily


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