Lee Siu Hin Journey to China 2022: My China Activism Factfinding & Solidarity Working Trip

李小轩 我的中国之行2022年:建立中美民间左翼交进步人士流和合作


Part One 第一章

So What’s U.S. sanctions got to do with the China-U.S. trans-Pacific flights? A lot


April 16, 2022


I am back to China.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019 there were hundreds of flights weekly between China and U.S. going to dozen cities in China; there were millions of travellers annually, and the flights were very convenient; a round trip ticket could cost as low as $600 USD during the low-travel season.

At the beginning of the COVID outbreak in Wuhan, China, in January 2020, President Trump falsely blamed China for “spreading” the virus. He quickly announced a travel ban on China, resulting in all China-U.S. flights being cancelled for few months –  almost no one could travel between China and the U.S. This move by Trump contributed additional pressure to the China-U.S. trade war.

While China was able to successfully beat back the virus within 3 months, the U.S. failed to win the COVID fight. China then implemented their strict policy to prevent any international passengers from bringing the virus into the country. The policy was multiple tests before the departure flight combined with strictly enforced 14-day quarantine on arrival.

For the past two years flights between the two countries have been greatly reduced because China enforced this strict COVID safety policy to prevent imported cases. In addition it created penalties for those airlines that brought excessive numbers of passengers testing positive to China – these carriers were blocked from flying to China for a period of time, the so-called “circuit breaker” policy.

With limited flights, the cost for airlines able to continue operating flights to China jumped significantly because of additional cabin cleaning requirements and reserving empty seats (usually between 30%-50% overall seats) to make social distancing possible on the flights. Since the pandemic began, the average ticket on U.S. airlines flying the same route to China has doubled, even tripled in cost and are more expensive than a ticket on Chinese airlines. The average cost of a one-way ticket on a Chinese airline is US$2000-$4000, while U.S. airlines charge as much as US$4000-$8000 to go to the same destination.

U.S. airlines have been losing money since the pandemic. The China route is a huge money making machine because so many people need to travel between the two countries and the seats have been very limited. Therefore, U.S. airlines have been charging far more money, well beyond reasonable additional costs to the passengers. It’s also an opportunity to milk extra money from Chinese travellers desperately needing to fly one-way back home, rather than passengers flying back to the U.S.

The U.S. has been the world epicenter of the COVID disaster, yet it has implemented less stringent airline COVID safety procedures. Unlike Chinese airlines where all flight attendants wear full PPE gear during the flight and spend 14 days in quarantine post-flight, U.S. airline flight attendants only wear face masks and have no quarantine requirement; there have been more U.S. flights that have exceeded the limit on the number of arriving passengers testing positive based on China’s “circuit breaker” policy, than the Chinese airlines. My cousin who works for a U.S. airline that flies to China recently got COVID while working; he only needed to quarantine for a few days before he went back to work.

A policy of less stringent procedures leads to more U.S. airlines being subjected to “circuit breaker” penalties and having fewer flights available then their Chinese competitors. 

Instead of improving the flight pandemic safety protocol, President Biden acted just like Trump, “blaming” China for unfair business practices against U.S. airlines; this resulted in less flights last year because more U.S. flights were cancelled because of “circuit breaker” penalties and then the Biden administration subsequently blocked more Chinese flights in retaliation; he wanted to force China to drop its COVID safety policy and give U.S. airlines “exemptions,” which has led to very expensive tickets and less choice in carriers.

Biden announced further sanctions to ban almost all Chinese airlines beginning last January with no end date. Since December 2021, multiple US-China flights, operated by carriers from both countries but mostly U.S., were canceled due to China’s "circuit breaker" policy. The U.S. quickly retaliated “equivalently” on January 21, 2022, by suspending 44 US-China flights operated by Chinese carriers, in addition to the Chinese flights already canceled by China. This resulted in almost no flights from the U.S. to China beginning late January and continuing the entire months of February, March and beyond.

It affected tens of thousands of China-bound travellers who lost their reservations, forcing them to rebook their flights with more expensive U.S. airlines; I was one of them.

I bought a US$2300 China Xiamen Airline ticket (because of COVID travel uncertainties, the airline only sells one-way tickets) from Los Angeles to Shanghai, to begin my China-U.S. solidarity working trip at late March. Then I lost my reservation because of Biden’s ban on Chinese airlines, and the only available option was an early April United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Shanghai for $6500 USD. There was no other ticket available until June at the earliest. So I had no choice but to buy the more expensive ticket on a U.S. airline to fly to China in early April.

Capitalist greed failed and brought destruction on the U.S. due to the COVID pandemic. Now the U.S. will use sanctions – an “economic disease” – against anyone, when their chance to maximize profits is threatened. 

The journey again begins.


Photo: United Flight from San Francisco arrived to Shanghai.


Photo: At Shanghai Pudong Airport, quaratine welcome center from each district, we'll choose the community we'll be going for our 14-day quaratine life.


Photo: Airport local welcome center


Part Three

Part Two

Part One: My Trip to China

Photos: Part One

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About Lee Siu Hin
Lee Siu Hin, a Chinese-American immigrant activist from Los Angeles, CA, is the founder and national coordinator of the China-U.S. Solidarity Network (CUSN) and the  National Immigrant Solidarity Network (NISN). He is a long-time community, labor, antiwar and immigrant rights activist for grassroots struggle. He's also a long-time Pacifica Radio KPFK Los Angeles unpaid reporter and producer and war correspondent who has worked in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.

NISN, a grassroots-based national immigrant activist network; and CUSN, a  network of academia and community activists in both countries committed to building a China-U.S. grassroots activist dialogue.

Lee holds a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) and a Masters of Engineering (Aerospace) from California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, loated in Pomona, CA.

He is currently working on community medical big data technology and a COVID-19 AI medical analytic platform for the inner-city community and the global south.

His latest book “Capitalism on a Ventilator” co-published with Sara Flounders in September, 2020; Chinese edition will be coming later in 2021.

National Immigrant Solidarity Network http://www.ImmigrantSolidarity.org
ActionLA Network http://www.ActionLA.org
Activist Video Service http://www.ActivistVideo.org
China-U.S. Solidarity Network http://www.ChinaSolidarity.org
China Delegation Project http://www.ChinaDelegation.org
e-mail: ActivistWeb@gmail.com

Lee Siu Hin: 8/19/2021: Chinese and U.S. Activists Say NO to the Biden's Virus Origin Investigation! To read the full report: https://www.immigrantsolidarity.org/ChinaSolidarity/COVID/index.html

The book “Capitalism on a Ventilator”, a book comparing COVID responses by capitalist and socialist governments, co-published by Lee Siu Hin and Sara Flounders, can be found online at these locations:




Lee lives and works between Los Angeles, California, and Shanghai, China. e-mail: ActivistWeb@gmail.com WeChat: 16266953405


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