Protests in China against heavy COVID-19 curbs spread to Shanghai on Sunday, with demonstrators also gathering at one of Beijing's most prestigious universities after a deadly fire in the country's far west sparked widespread anger.

The wave of civil disobedience, which has included protests in Urumqi, where the fire occurred, as well as elsewhere in Beijing and in other cities, has reached unprecedented levels in mainland China since Xi Jinping assumed power a decade ago.

In Shanghai, China's most populous city, residents gathered on Saturday night at Wulumuqi Road — which is named after Urumqi — for a candlelight vigil that turned into a protest in the early hours of Sunday.