by Danny Boyle from The Telegraph (UK)

It is the most direct challenge to Beijing since the Tiananmen Square protests. Chinese protesters have called for Xi Jinping to resign, as anti-lockdown marches swept the nation. Hundreds took to the streets of major cities as anger at the government’s zero-Covid policies boiled over into demands for regime change. “Down with the Chinese Communist Party! Down with Xi Jinping!”, protesters chanted on the streets of Shanghai. In Wuhan, where Covid-19 first emerged, large crowds pulled down metal barriers meant to keep neighbourhoods in quarantine. As Simina Mistreanu and Jenny Pan report, about 300 people were surrounded by police in Beijing as they chanted “We are with Xinjiang”, a reference to a deadly fire in the region where Covid-lockdowns allegedly hampered rescue efforts. By yesterday evening, police in Shanghai had begun to bundle protesters into vans. Last night, footage showed a BBC journalist being beaten and kicked by policeMatthew Henderson argues that this could be the beginning of the end for Mr Xi.

China is the last major economy wedded to a zero-Covid strategy, in which authorities erode citizens’ freedom with lockdowns and lengthy quarantines. Economic growth is set to fall to 2.8pc this year, according to the World Bank, a drop of 5pc on last year and a threat to the Communist Party’s implicit promise of wealth in return for obedience. Early today, Chinese assets slumped as chaos and uncertainty gripped traders. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index dropped more than 4pc in early trading. Follow the latest with business live blogger Chris Price.