Elderly Chinese man with 'no identity' desperate to go home

PHOTO: China Daily/Asia News Network

Cui Guixiao is looking forward to next month, because he hopes to return to his hometown of Hengshui in Hebei province, which he left 33 years ago.

"They helped me get in contact with my elder sister and will hopefully send me home soon," said the 63-year-old, referring to the Beiji border police.

Cui left home in 1985 after falling out with his family, and subsequently lost contact with them.

In the following years, he made a living doing odd jobs in Hebei and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region before moving in 1991 to Mohe, the northernmost county in Heilongjiang province.

He followed the advice of locals, becoming a logger in Hongqiling at a lumber storage yard about 100 kilometers from the county seat, and never left.

Through diligence and wisdom, Cui became an expert in logging. However, with the promotion of the central government's Natural Forest Protection Project in 2000, commercial logging in the Greater Khingan Range was gradually halted, and Cui lost his job.

He went back to a life of relying on odd jobs for income, such as a fisherman and a cattle herder.

In recent years, with the rapid development of tourism in Mohe, Hongqiling has become a scenic spot attracting tourists due to its location close to the Heilong River.

In 2010, Cui found a job in a family-run hotel. In the summer tourist season, he is the only waiter at the hotel, and in other seasons, his employer leaves him to watch over the rooms.

"Conditions are much better than before. In the past, I was only allowed to sleep in the cellar, but now I am living in a bright room," Cui said.

"However, every day I feel homesick, especially at night. But I don't have an identity card, which means I cannot buy a train ticket."

Niu Shulei, a Beiji border police officer, said there is no household registration information on Cui in the national system, he has no criminal record and is not listed as a missing person.

In the winter of 2014, Cui struck up a conversation with Niu. "In fact, he couldn't remember where he was from and could not provided us with an exact address," Niu said.

"But he repeatedly asked us to help find his relatives."

Using the vague information Cui gave the officers, they began making phone calls to each village within the area they suspected he came from. Eventually, they were able to obtain the phone number of Cui's elder sister.

"It was 2015 and the Spring Festival holiday was approaching," Niu said.

"We knew how urgent his desire was to be reunited with his family, so we went to Hongqiling."

In heavy snowfall, they drove for more than five hours. Niu gave Cui his mobile phone and told him to call his sister, but there was no signal, so they had to travel an extra 4 kilometers to the top of a mountain to make the call.

On the mountaintop, Cui made the call and finally heard his sister's voice, falling to his knees in the snow.

"After getting in touch with my sister, I planned to save some money before returning home," Cui said.

"As time has gone by, I have become more homesick. I want to return home as soon as possible."

Niu said Beiji border police are trying to find a way to send him back next month. "Traveling by train without an identity card is a big problem," he said.

"We hope to help him obtain his household registration at the local police department with all the information we can provide about him."

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