Journey to China 2022

by Lee Siu-Hin [Excerpt]

Based on my observations made from my apartment, I wrote down some small stories about the campaign against COVID in Shanghai, to understand the complexity of the situation and how everyone is working hard to make the situation better:

Every day the Shanghai TV news channel has several hours of live programming covering anti-pandemic efforts across the city and the country. These are much different than the U.S. Chinese TV programming is mostly interviews of  medical workers and community workers about how they help the community. People can call in to the show’s helpline for their needs, and TV reporters will follow their requests on live TV.

During onsite interviews, reporters wear full PPE most of the time and show how the city-wide efforts to organize medical operations, food supplies and meet basic human needs are going. Like these May 26th Shanghai TV news channel live anti-pandemic special news programs, title “Unite together to resolutely win the (anti- Omicron) battle of Greater Shanghai”:

Here are some of the stories I experienced or read online in during my lockdown life in Shanghai:

There is a convenience store downstairs from my apartment. From their store to our locked gate it is approximately 10 feet. Because of the lockdown our apartment gate is locked and we cannot go out; due to the current city-wide health requirement the store doesn’t allow regular customers to shop there. We’re able to shop there at a distance and we only need to arrange Paotui delivery service to make the delivery for the 10-foot distance to our gate.

Shanghai and neighboring cities enforced a strict lockdown and each district in the city is also closed to the others. Some people were stuck for the past few weeks in one district because they cannot cross the district border to return to their home just a few miles away. Many old people need to go to different districts from their home to visit doctors or pick up life-saving medications. In desperation they call the police, the community workers or TV station hotline for help. A police car drives the patients to the hospital or the community worker arranges for a special drug delivery across different districts for the patients.

May 23, 2022 Shanghai’s Xinmin Evening News online “My Anti-pandemic Diary | The warmth of “Tuan,” the power of “Tuan” I read a heartwarming story of people helping each other by a young woman Liu Lingyuan.

“A few years ago, reports of three or five friends getting together to spend their old age together were widely reported online. They were often moved by their creativity and yearned for it. Yes, our generation has caught up with the one-child era, and children who work hard in the workplace have to bear the burden of both the old and the young. It would be a good choice to be able to retire with old sisters, and work together to spend old age together. I never thought that a sudden outbreak would make me experience a different kind of group now – group materials, group neighbors, group family affection, group strength.

It has been several years since I moved into a new house, and I have only come here to greet you in the building. There are only two households on the same floor. Today’s Shanghai has lost the intimacy and intimate knowledge of childhood neighbors.

But now, a building WeChat group has been established, which has rebuilt the bond between neighbors, and has linked 58 family and retail households into a community of anti-COVID destiny, one big family starting a new model of helping each other through instant messaging.

People in the building began to “hold a group” to keep warm, from the group buying vegetable bags, pork, fruit, fresh milk, to the company’s big gift bag (lockdown supply items from their work) to share. With the continuous delivery of government guarantees and group shopping resources, volunteers started putting them into the elevator after disinfecting them, and so they could be picked up floor by floor, contactless. Thousands of parcels have been delivered without a single one going missing or being misdelivered, and this extends to the exchange of rice, noodles, oil, vegetables and fruits, regardless of the price; everyone takes what they need and even donates a chicken and a non-stick frying pan, or small items that you need: a few grains of wolfberry stew and a few grains of millet pepper for seasoning. The traditional virtues of the Chinese nation have been perfectly interpreted in the face of these in-demand materials, and the priceless true feelings among neighbors far surpass any monetary value.

Several events in the building further heated up the neighborhood. Someone on the 17th floor was infected and transferred to the makeshift hotel, reminding the going into quarantine to remember to take earplugs, eye masks, and cellphone charging cables, wishing them a speedy recovery and a safe return. The words are full of family-like instructions. A pregnant woman on the 5th floor received nutritional supplements from her neighbors before giving birth, and a young mother accompanies her to chat privately. After she gave birth to a daughter, blessings flew like snowflakes, and some people made wedding cakes. The tenant on the 16th floor was scalded their foot with boiling water. There were instructions for flushing with water, “burn and scald cream” was given, and someone helped contact the hospital. With the opening of the passenger train, some people on the second floor went back to their hometown to visit their parents. They helped those who borrowed protective clothing and those who took out goggles. They paid attention to protection during the journey, and the care for the smooth journey was overwhelming.

These warm-hearted things have swept away the spiritual barrier that separated the neighbors by thousands of mountains and rivers, and from “neighbors who never talk to each other” it has become a community of shared destiny, shining with the brilliance of truth, goodness and beauty of human nature.

Last week, I received a call from my best friend Peng Peng. She had a disagreement with her younger sister in the handling of her parents’ inheritance. The outbreak touched the softest and deepest affection in their hearts.

In the eyes of many children, parents are always young and powerful, and do not need to be cared for. The menacing pandemic was a wakeup call for one person’s daughter living overseas. She used her father’s mobile phone number to help grab vegetables on Dingdong online grocery apps and Meituan online grocery platforms; instructed the operation of the “Tactics Manual for Grocery Shopping”; reading, answering and advising thousands of chats a day, I feel like become a parent taking care of a child: “If you have the opportunity to buy more, prepare all the food for at least two weeks!” “Someone uses soybeans to grow bean sprouts, you should consider it”, and also sent a cultivation video. With the “last mile completed,” she delivered protein powder and health care products. This epidemic has awakened children’s cherishing of their parents, and we have enjoyed the happiness of nurturing.

With group supplies, group neighbors, group family affection, and group strength, victory in the fight against the epidemic is certain to be won!” ( It’s almost the same experience that has happened in my apartment building!

With the situation improving, the delivery services are slowly getting back to normal; everything is getting better, yet there are still many people who are dissatisfied.

Since the latest Omicron outbreak in Shanghai, I also found that right wingers have been taking this opportunity to take over the building committee, group buying leader and the channels of communication between the building and the neighborhood committee as well as to change the direction of the discussion within the building. They’re usually internet bloggers or old Shanghai residents who enjoy many government benefits.

This situation is generally in buildings and communities that are relatively old and small, with chaotic management where neighbors don’t talk to each other and there is no local building/community CPC party organization or responsible property management. These people take advantage and try to control the building with their own styles, act as leaders and hijack our opinions.

A loose alliance was established between them, and they regarded themselves as the representatives of the building. In addition, they had connection with the neighborhood committee / neighborhood office for a period of time and controlled the decision-making process and public opinion in the building. They didn’t do anything in ordinary times, and didn’t solve real problems for the building / community.

During the latest epidemic, they are taking advantage of everyone’s anxiety during lockdown. Instead of calming people’s emotions and finding solutions, they choose to get everyone agitated about issues, circulating many misleading online rumors forwarded to our WeChat group every day, creating more anxiety and confrontation with neighborhood committees / neighborhood offices. They even spread anti-vaxx/anti-lockdown rhetoric within the building.

Because these people who control the building committee generally have links to the decision-making power of relevant political and economic interests (real estate, government policy budget), this is not just a group of anxious people complaining every day or people follow the trend. Most of the time, the group has consistency and the similar actions are happening in other communities at the almost same time, which suggests that there is a larger ad-hoc organizational force behind it.

But with positive energy and mutual support for each other, there are no hurdles we cannot overcome; even though I returned to Shanghai and was stuck inside my apartment with my cat 24-7 and all my projects had to be postponed; sometimes my apartment could be very dysfunctional, and crazy as like living in Springfield at The Simpson’s cartoons. What I witnessed, and participated in helping my neighbors and their helping me, the socialist system that fighting and winning batter of the COVID that saves lives, it has been an experience of a lifetime that is worth remembering and telling everyone about.

Our story continues…

To see the complete, much longer report, go to the link at the top and click on “Lee Siu Hin Journey to China 2022: My China Activism, Factfinding & Solidarity Working Trip”, an update on 05/26/2022.

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