China’s largest political event, the twice-a-decade Communist Party congress, has started in Beijing.
The summit, under tight security, determines who rules China and the country’s direction for the next term.
Current Chinese president and Party leader Xi Jinping is expected to be confirmed as party chief for another five years at the gathering.
It would extend the role he has held since 2012.
Mr Xi began his speech to 2000 delegates by trumpeting his nation’s prospects as bright – but made a rare acknowledgement of severe economic challenges ahead.
Other Chinese leaders have regularly warned that China’s economic growth faces “downward pressure” since the 2008 financial crisis.
But Mr Xi’s comments were unusual in a keynote speech meant to highlight the party’s confidence and long-range vision.
Among the serious issues Mr Xi said were insufficiently addressed were a widening income gap and problems in employment.
Mr Xi also hailed the party’s tightened grip over domestic security, saying that social stability had been maintained and national security strengthened.
The congress is expected to end next week.