Live updates: China kicks off 20th Communist Party Congress

Chinese President Xi Jinping waves du the opening ceremony of the 20th National Congress of China’s ruling Communist Party held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022. China on Sunday opens a twice-a-decade party conference at which leader Xi Jinping is expected to receive a third five-year term that breaks with recent precedent and establishes himself as arguably the most powerful Chinese politician since Mao Zedong. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) (Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press)

As anticipated, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has struck a confident tone throughout his opening speech to the Party Congress, highlighting China’s growing strength and rising influence in its pursuit of the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

But he has also repeatedly underscored the risks and challenges the country faces.

Describing the past five years as “highly unusual and extraordinary,” Xi said the party has led China and its people through “a grim and complex international situation” and “huge risks and challenges that came one after another.”

The very first challenges Xi highlighted were the Covid-19 pandemic, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

According to Xi, China has come out victorious on all of these issues — it has “maximumly protected people’s lives and health” from Covid, turned Hong Kong from “chaos to governance,” and demonstrated its “firm determination and strong ability to safeguard national sovereignty” and “oppose Taiwan independence.”

Xi also underscored the “rapid changes in the international situation” — a thinly veiled reference to the growing tensions between China and the United States and its allies.

He applauded China’s assertive approach, saying it has “carried forward the spirit of struggle” and “upheld national dignity and core interests in the struggle.”

“He did note that there are deficiencies as well as some difficulties and problems and would make greater effort to deal with those issues. He asked the party to prepare to be tested by more and still greater turbulence ahead,” said Dali Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago.

“This section on the new security pattern elaborates the overall national security concept and is more explicit than before on the importance of maintaining stability,” added Yang.

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