One year after historic protests broke out on Shanghai's bustling Wulumuqi Road, only a subtly increased police presence on main junctions betrays anything out of the ordinary.

But for many involved in what became China's most widespread demonstrations in decades, it's impossible to erase the memory of the events of last autumn.

In the early hours of November 27, 2022, vigils for victims of a fire in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi morphed into multi-city calls to end zero-COVID measures, and in some cases, calls to topple the ruling Communist Party and its leader Xi Jinping.