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February 13, 2017

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54 years on, a lost soldier comes home

ABOUT sunset Saturday, Wang Qi set his feet on his homeland again in Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province, after 54 years in adrift in India.

“I’m finally home!” a sobbing Wang hugged his tearful brothers and sisters at Xi’an Xianyang International Airport.

Wang, a Chinese solider, got lost in a forest on the China-India border in 1963, a year after the countries fought a brief border war.

He was rescued by India’s Red Cross and handed over to the Indian military. The military sentenced him in to jail for seven years for “espionage” at a time when tensions still ran high.

Wang settled and married in a rural area in India after serving his sentence, but he always wanted to go home.

Over the years, Wang sent many letters to his family in Xuezhainan Village in Shaanxi’s Qianxian County, expressing his homesickness.

To help Wang return home, the Chinese embassy in India made every effort to get him an exit permit. In 2013, he received a Chinese passport and financial support from the government, which made it possible for him to return.

Groups of people lined outside the house of Wang’s younger brother Wang Shun on Saturday — Lantern Festival day, which marks family reunion.

“After all these years, he is finally coming back,” Wang Shun said as he prepared a quilt for Wang Qi. “We bought the furniture in this room many years ago.”

“He has not changed much, I can still recognize him,” said villager Wang Ming. “All of us in the village have been waiting for his return, and we are just happy that he made it.”


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