China's lockdown protests reverberate abroad

STORY: Dozens of protesters gathered in Hong Kong on Monday to show solidarity with rare displays of defiance in mainland China over the weekend.

In a city that is no stranger to anti-government protests, people brought flowers and candles.

“I'm here because I don’t quite agree with mainland China’s policies on COVID,” says this resident.

Small-scale vigils and protests have popped up in a number of cities around the world following extraordinary scenes of protest in China over the weekend…

… a display of unprecedented civil disobedience since leader Xi Jinping assumed power a decade ago.

The catalyst for demonstrations was an apartment fire in China’s Xinjiang region that killed 10 people.

Many speculated that COVID curbs had hindered rescue - which city officials denied.

China's strict COVID policy has become a lightning rod for frustration, although it has kept the country's death toll much lower than many other countries.

In Sydney, about 200 people gathered outside its Town Hall to show support for protesters.

“…as Australians we have to be a voice for China."

Similar scenes unfolded in London and Tokyo over the weekend.

On Monday, people gathered outside the U.S. State Department in Washington.

...with White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby adding this:

“Our message to peaceful protesters is the same and consistent: people should be allowed the right to assemble and peacefully protest polices or laws or dictate they take issue with.”

And British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly issued this warning:

''Well, protests against the Chinese government are rare and when they do happen, I think the world should take notice but I think the Chinese government should take notice.''

Still, from his home in Portugal, Chinese artist and dissident AI Weiwei said he was skeptical about protests shaking the government.

“It's very easy to just arrest them and move on.”

On Monday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said Beijing was not aware of any protests abroad calling for an end to its zero-COVID policy.

Asked about protests at home, he said the question did not, quote, "reflect what actually happened,”

… adding that China believed the fight against COVID would be successful with the leadership of the party and the cooperation of the people.