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

Beijing Deep Glint’s revolutionary facial recognition algorithm reunites Xie Kefeng with his son, Xie Qingshuai, after being abducted 25-year ago.

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XINGTAI, CHINA: After enduring a lengthy 25-year separation, 1 December 2024 marked a joyous occasion for 52-year-old Xie Kefeng as he was finally reunited with his son.

The infant had been cruelly snatched from his parents, leading to years of anguish and uncertainty.

The pivotal factor in this heartwarming reunion was the transformative power of technology, specifically a facial comparison algorithm.

This advanced algorithm not only considers age-related changes but also takes into account family similarities.

Its remarkable capabilities played a vital role in facilitating the much-awaited and emotional reunion between father and son.

It is worth noting that Xie Qingshuai, the long-lost son, represents the fourth abducted person successfully located by this groundbreaking technology in the past six months, as highlighted in a report by China Daily.

Xie family’s 1998 search for infant son spanned multiple provinces and cities

In 1998, Xie and his wife were residents of Xingtai, Hebei province, where they operated a small business.

The couple’s life took a devastating turn just days before the Spring Festival that year.

On that fateful day, Xie’s wife briefly left their home to purchase groceries, entrusting their three-month-old second son, Xie Qingshuai, peacefully resting on the bed with the door left unlocked.

A mere 10 minutes later, upon her return, a profound sense of despair set in as the couple discovered that their infant son had mysteriously vanished.

Promptly reporting the heart-wrenching incident to the authorities, Xie and his wife initiated a frantic search.

The scope of their efforts extended beyond their immediate surroundings, encompassing Beijing, Tianjin, and Henan province.

The search eventually spanned other provinces and cities, yet the whereabouts of their missing child remained elusive.

A father’s decades-long quest for his abducted son

In the absence of any photographs of the abducted baby, artists’ impressions became a crucial tool featured on notices that sought to spread awareness about the heartbreaking incident.

Undeterred by the lack of visual records, Xie Kefeng embarked on a personal quest, dedicating a substantial portion of his savings to the relentless pursuit of his missing son.

Despite their attempts to forge ahead with their lives, the impact of the abduction resonated profoundly within the couple.

The mother, grappling with the emotional toll, succumbed to a debilitating depression that persisted for nearly a decade.

Her struggle led to a prolonged dependence on medication as she sought to navigate the challenges of coping with the void left by the disappearance of their child.

Throughout this arduous journey, the couple remained resilient, channelling their energy into both their professional endeavours and the ongoing search for their son.

The hope persisted that, should he return, their tireless efforts would ensure a better life for the child they longed to reconnect with.

In the face of adversity, Xie Kefeng held steadfast to his unwavering belief in the existence of his son and the eventual reunion that he fervently anticipated.

Xie Qingshuai’s long-lost son found after 25 Years, unveiling abduction network

In the latter part of November this year, Xie Kefeng received an unexpected call from the police, delivering the long-awaited news that a facial comparison had successfully led to the discovery of Xie Qingshuai.

A subsequent DNA comparison definitively confirmed the identity of his long-lost son.

The intricate details of the abduction unfolded as authorities revealed that two individuals were involved in the heinous act.

One of them had met their demise, while the other was taken into custody by the police.

Furthermore, an intermediary implicated in the sale of the baby was also apprehended, shedding light on the broader network behind the abduction.

The heartwarming reunion took place last Friday (1 Dec), when Xie Qingshuai, now residing and working in Chengdu, Sichuan province, was finally reintegrated into the embrace of his father, mother, and older brother.

Notably, this momentous occasion also marked his first meeting with his two sisters, who had been unknown to him until then.

Unbeknownst to his family, the intricate narrative of Xie Qingshuai’s life unfolded as it was revealed that he had been sold to a couple residing in Handan, another city in Hebei.

Following the passing of the man he believed to be his father, Xie Qingshuai’s life took an unexpected turn.

His “adoptive” mother remarried and relocated, leaving him in the care of his newfound “adoptive” grandparents.

AI algorithm key to long-lost family reunion after 25 years

On Sunday (3 Dec), Beijing Deep Glint Technology Co, an artificial intelligence technology company, took to its Sina Weibo social media account to announce a breakthrough in its facial comparison algorithm developed by the company which played a part in the reunion between Xie Kefeng and his long-lost son, Xie Qingshuai.

In an explanatory video accompanying the announcement, Beijing Deep Glint shed light on the challenges posed by the abduction of children, particularly the significant changes in appearance that occur as they grow older.

These changes often complicate police investigations.

Leveraging the principle that facial features tend to exhibit similarities among relatives, the company’s algorithm emerged as a powerful tool capable of identifying potential matches with a high degree of relevance.

This innovation has proven instrumental in enhancing the efficiency of the search process for abducted children.

The company disclosed that the facial comparison algorithm used photos of both parents and the boy’s older brother.

This meticulous approach allowed the algorithm to narrow the search to five possibilities, ultimately leading to the successful reunion of the family after a quarter-century of separation.

Acknowledging the societal impact of such technology, the Ministry of Public Security’s Criminal Investigation Bureau expressed its intent to advocate for the widespread adoption of cutting-edge technologies, including facial recognition technology.

The objective is to combat child trafficking effectively and contribute to the reunification of abducted children with their biological parents.

China’s facial recognition system extensively logs its citizens, supported by a vast network of cameras throughout the country.

A database leak in 2019 revealed the extent of China’s surveillance capabilities, with over 6.8 million records from a single day captured by cameras at hotels, parks, tourist spots, and mosques, including details of individuals as young as 9 days old.

While Beijing asserts that this monitoring is vital for crime prevention and has been instrumental in controlling the spread of COVID-19, human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch argue that it is creating a surveillance state. They claim this infringes on privacy and disproportionately targets specific groups, such as the Uyghur Muslim minority.

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