Wang Mingqing and his wife Liu Dengying had looked for Qifeng since she disappeared aged three in 1994. His tireless search included becoming a taxi driver, in the hope he might one day pick her up as a passenger. His daughter made contact earlier this year after coming across an online post about him. At the tearful reunion he hugged her and said: “Daddy loves you.” The incredible story has swept China, where many are celebrating the reunion.
Wang Mingqing and Liu Dengying were fruit sellers, selling their wares at a roadside stall in the south-western city of Chengdu. On one particularly busy day, Mr Wang ran out of change, and briefly went to a neighbouring stall to change money for a customer. When he came back minutes later, his daughter was gone. Mr Wang and his wife spent years searching for her in the city and surrounding areas, taking out advertisements in newspapers and setting up online appeals. The couple, who have another daughter and a son, never left Chengdu, in the hope that Qifeng would find her way back to them.
In 2015, Mr Wang decided to broaden the search by signing up as a driver with ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing. He put up a large sign appealing for information on his rear window, and also gave out cards with information about Qifeng to every passenger he ferried. Mr Wang did not have a picture of Qifeng as a toddler so he used a picture of his other daughter in his leaflets, as they looked similar. His unique method gained attention from the Chinese media. “One day, my daughter may just be the person sitting in my car!” he was quoted as saying.
A breakthrough finally came late last year, when a police sketch artist read about Mr Wang and decided to help by producing a drawing of what Qifeng might look like as an adult. The picture was circulated online. Thousands of kilometres away, on the other side of the country, a woman called Kang Ying saw the picture – and was shocked by how much it resembled her. She had been raised by adoptive parents in a nearby town just 20km (12 miles) away, Chinese media reported. Her adoptive family had told her that she was found on the side of a road in Chengdu as a child, Shanghaiist said. She contacted Mr Wang earlier this year, and found that she shared some unusual traits with his missing daughter, including a small scar on her forehead and a tendency to get nauseous whenever she cried. They quickly arranged for a DNA test. This time, the result was positive – Mr Wang had finally found his long-lost child.