Dozens of people in Hong Kong rallied in the city and emulated some of the protests erupting in China in opposition to the nation's COVID Zero policy.   

The people gathered in the city's central business district at about 7:40 p.m. local time, with some holding blank pieces of paper — mimicking what many protesters have done in the mainland to protest the country's strict anti-COVID measures. Others laid flowers on the ground to mourn the victims of a fire in Xinjiang. 

These assemblies followed the protests that sprouted over the weekend in mainland China after 10 people in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, died when a fire broke out in their building. The Chinese protesters, many of whom women, took to the streets with some holding blank pieces of paper in common spaces like subways and universities, while others held candles to show solidarity with the fire victims. 

The protests — occurring in cities from Beijing to the far western outpost of Kashgar — are shaping up to become one of the biggest threats to the Communist Party since the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. It also deals a blow to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has doubled down on the country's COVID policy, after he gained a precedent defying third term in office. 

China continues to implement its COVID Zero policies to stamp out the virus, which include shutting down some shopping malls in Beijing as the capital city has emerged as one hot spot in the country's latest outbreak. 

In Hong Kong, protests have virtually disappeared after the government cracked down on dissent following the national security law imposed in June 2020. Some 234 people have been arrested under the law, including dozens of former opposition lawmakers, journalists and pro-democracy activists. 

The city has prohibited gatherings for some two years under its anti-epidemic policies — the latest rules banning assemblies of more than 12 people unless exempted.