Massive protests against China's COVID-19 lockdown policies could threaten the rule of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, just weeks after he was granted an unprecedented third term at the helm of the nation.
Rescue efforts were reportedly hindered by the country's Covid lockdown restrictions after Thursday's deadly fire in the far western Xinjiang region, which sparked days of protests in China.
The fire in Urumqi killed ten people. The city had been under COVID quarantine for one hundred days.
By Sunday, the protests had spread to major cities such as Nanjing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, in addition to the nation's capital, Beijing.
"Xi Jinping! Come down! CCP! "Fall down!" This was a virtually unprecedented chant in a country where such cries could be considered sedition by law.
The participation of China's educated urban middle class from the Han ethnic majority has also been notable.
Following a day of clashes with protestors in Shanghai, authorities on Monday blocked some of the city's main avenues with blue metal barriers to prevent further gatherings. The stores in the anticipated protest areas were instructed to remain closed.
On Monday, while fewer Chinese took to the streets, protests erupted in Hong Kong.
Chinese University of Hong Kong students chanted "oppose dictatorship" and "Freedom! Freedom!"
China's so-called zero-COVID policy aims to stop the spread of the highly contagious pandemic by restricting the movement of its citizens to isolate each infected individual.
The policy has reduced the number of cases and deaths. China has reported 5,232 COVID-19 deaths, while the United States has reported 1,09 million.
People in some regions are now confined to their homes for up to four months, as tolerance for the strict controls has declined.
Beijing had signaled a willingness to relax some zero-COVID policies, despite the resurgence of cases.
The lockdown protests are the largest in China since 1989, when pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square were violently suppressed by the Chinese Communist Party.
To date, most of the violence in China has consisted of police pepper spraying crowds.
The BBC reported that the reporter was kicked and beaten by police before being detained for "several hours."
Ed Lawrence, the reporter, stated later that a Swiss journalist was briefly detained and that "at least one local national was arrested after attempting to stop the police from beating me."
Lawrence later reported that Chinese police confiscated phones and cameras and allegedly forced protest-related images to be deleted.
Chinese officials claimed Lawrence was detained "for his own protection in case he contracted COVID from the crowd," the BBC reported, adding, "We do not find this explanation credible."