China is deploying its own version of AMBER Alert, the child abduction alert system developed in the US in 1996 that has thwarted hundreds of abductions.
The new system is administered by the Ministry of Public Security and enables police to deliver messages about missing children to the public through official Weibo accounts and certain mobile applications such as Gaode Map. Recipients of the messages are selected by GPS location.
“After discovering that a child has become lost, parents usually call the police or release the information on Weibo. The police can enter what they know about the lost child and suspect into the new Missing Children Information Emergency Release Platform,” said Chen Jianfeng, director of the Criminal Investigation Bureau under the the Ministry of Public Security.
Messages are delivered to any users within a 100 kilometer radius. After two hours, the notification area expands to 200 kilometers, and after three hours it expands 500 kilometers, Chen said.
The system came online on May 13, with a notice about an ethnic Yi girl from Sichuan province who was last sighted at the Hengshui Railway Station in Hebei province. Accompanying security footage showed a man in a light T-shit approaching the girl.
Several users replied to the Weibo post with questions about the girl’s name. Police issued prompt responses.
On the morning of May 15, the official Weibo account announced the missing girl had been rescued and the suspect arrested in Zhengzhou, Longhu City, Henan province.