Facial recognition tech reunites abducted boy in China with family after 25 years, Latest World News - The New Paper

Facial recognition tech reunites abducted boy in China with family after 25 years

It took 25 long years, but 52-year-old Xie Kefeng was finally reunited on Dec 1 with his son, who was snatched from his parents when he was an infant.

A facial comparison algorithm, which takes age-related changes and family similarities into account, played a major role in reuniting the family.

In 1998, Mr Xie’s wife stepped out to buy groceries, leaving their second son Xie Qingshuai, who was three-month-old, on the bed with the door unlocked. When she returned 10 minutes later, the child was gone.

The couple reported the incident to the police and mobilised relatives and friends for a search that extended to many cities and provinces, but the child could not be found.

As there were no photographs of the baby, artists’ impressions were used on the notices announcing the abduction. The father continued with his search, spending almost all his savings in the process. – CHINA DAILY / ASIA NEWS NETWORK

“I always believed that he is still alive and I will eventually find him,” said Mr Xie.

In late November 2023, he received a call from the police informing him that a facial comparison had led to his son being found. A DNA comparison confirmed that it was indeed his long-lost son.

Two people had been involved in the abduction. One was dead and the other was taken into custody by the police. An intermediary who sold the baby was also apprehended.

Mr Xie Qingshuai, who now works in Chengdu in Sichuan province, was reunited with his parents and older brother on Dec 1, and met his two sisters for the first time.

Unknown to his family, he had been sold to a couple in Hebei. After the man he knew as his father died, his wife remarried and moved away, leaving Mr Xie Qingshuai to be brought up by his adoptive grandparents.

On Dec 3, an artificial intelligence technology company Beijing DeepGlint Technology announced on social media that its facial comparison algorithm had played a vital role in the reunion.

The company said it used photos of both parents and the boy’s older brother to help the facial comparison algorithm narrow the search down to five possibilities.

It said that Mr Xie Qingshuai was the fourth abducted person it had helped the police to locate in the past six months.