Chinese grandfather learns son faked his death 14 years ago and left old man to bring up his child
Family dispute prompted man to stage disappearance, but getting back in touch with his own son meant the ruse was finally uncovered
A rural grandfather discovered that his son was still alive more than a decade after he had been told that he was dead.
For 14 years, Wang Xiude, a farmer from the city of Xiangyang in Hubei province, raised his grandson Tong Tong by himself, according to a report about the case in Chutian Golden News.
Tong Tong’s father, Wang Zhiwen, the youngest of three brothers, was reported to have died abroad in 2003.
In fact, he had faked his own death and had stayed in contact with his son.
But when Tong Tong, now a college student at Fudan University, visited his grandfather recently, Wang accidentally found a family photo on Tong Tong’s phone and realised that his son had faked his death 14 years ago.
The report said that before his “death”, Wang Zhiwen, who studied and worked abroad with his wife, had been disappointed by his two elder brothers.
He felt his two siblings were not treating their parents properly and refused to share the cost of their mother’s medical bills.
The mother died some time before her son’s disappearance.
Wang Zhiwen’s last call to his father came before the Chinese Spring Festival in 2003.
In September that year, Wang Xiude received a message telling him that his youngest son had died of a lung infection.
Three days after Wang’s “death”, his wife took the then five-year-old Tong Tong back to their hometown and left 50,000 yuan (US$7,700 in today’s rates) to the boy’s grandfather to help raise the child for a while, but she then also apparently disappeared.
The report said Wang Xiude brought up Tong Tong, raising money by working as a vegetable seller.
In second grade Tong Tong started receiving a monthly stipend of 500 yuan – money which turned out to have come from his father who arranged the payment through a friend.
Wang Zhiwen told the newspaper that he was unwilling to take on the financial burden of supporting his whole family while his two siblings did nothing.
The brothers responded by saying their sibling had had more money spent on his studies and had been educated to a higher level than them. They argued he was, therefore, in a better position to support the family.
The grandfather said he would never forgive his youngest son for the deception.
It was not reported how he was able to get in touch with Tong Tong, but by the time the boy had entered high school he was holding secret meetings with his father, who told him not to tell the rest of the family.
It was not clear where Wang Zhiwen had been living and working at this time, but the report said he and his wife had since had a second son.