The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has drawn Republican fire for its cautious response to nationwide protests in China against COVID-19 lockdowns, with some lawmakers accusing it of failing to seize a historic moment.

But some analysts say caution is the right approach given the volatile U.S.-China relationship and the risk of playing into a Chinese narrative that accuses "foreign forces" of being behind dissent.

On Monday, the White House said it backed the right of people to peacefully protest in China but stopped short of criticizing Beijing, as protesters in multiple Chinese cities demonstrated against strict COVID-19 measures.