China Elevator Stories

a single phone call

I try to find out my children’s whereabouts but don’t receive the necessary help.


Ruth Silbermayr-Song


By the end of 2019, all contact has not yet been cut between my children and me. However, I can only see my children in a video call on rare occasions now because my ex has started to restrict my access to them.

When I recognize that my husband is restricting access, I ask a friend for help. We meet at a restaurant in Vienna on a winter day in early January 2020, and draft up an email he later sends to the Austrian Embassy in China on my behalf.

But even months later, I still have no answer from the embassy.

Almost two years go by in which I contact the embassy a few more times. By 2022, contact with my ex-husband can finally be reestablished.

The embassy refuses any further help.

According to this article in German, the consul general of the Austrian Embassy in China drove from Beijing to Wuhan during the Covid-19 pandemic by car to evacuate 6 Austrians from the city and to bring them to Austria safely.

But when I ask him to make a single phone call to the Public Security Bureau in Siping so I can find out my children’s whereabouts, he refuses to help.

I have also contacted the Public Security Bureau in my ex-husband’s hometown who tell me they are willing to help but need an official confirmation first that the person calling is indeed the children’s mother.

Even after Vienna Child and Youth Welfare Services contact the embassy on behalf of the court with a plea for administrative assistance, my children are not being searched for.

I receive an email citing a refusal of the Chinese foreign ministry to help.

I wonder why after all these years, the embassy still refuses to do more. After all, a single phone call is all it would take to find my children.

Have authorities ever refused to help you?