China’s political and legal affairs chief, a protégé of President Xi Jinping , has ordered a new round of inspections to remove potential risks ahead of this year’s all-important Communist Party national congress. “[We] must consistently innovate with our political and legal work to welcome the victorious hosting of the 20th party congress,” said Chen Yixin , secretary general of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, China’s top law enforcement body. His remarks were reported on the social media account of the commission, which oversees all of China’s police force, prosecutors, judges and its state security personnel. Chen ordered 10 topics for research to identify and remove likely social and political risks, the report said, including legal issues related to foreign entities, smart management and the internet . China’s Communist Party targets big risks in countdown to congress The report did not offer details, but Chen said these areas were key to helping Chinese law enforcement authorities manage the social risks ahead. Earlier this year, he singled out pressure from external forces as one of seven challenges facing the country. Chen’s latest remarks are part of a series of moves by China’s security apparatus to eliminate such risks in the run-up to the congress, a five-yearly political gathering of top party leaders in Beijing. The 20th edition this autumn is expected to be a landmark event, with President Xi Jinping beginning an unprecedented third term as party leader. At a meeting on Saturday, the commission’s party chief, Guo Shengkun, praised China’s law enforcement corps for work done since the last party congress in 2017, including pushing forward the national security law in Hong Kong in 2020, a controversial move that drew huge international backlash. “External forces” represented the top risk faced by China’s security forces, said Guo, a member of the 25-strong Politburo, the party’s decision-making body. The battle against containment, hegemony, infiltration and subversion was “intense and complicated”, he warned. “Risks to political security are a major concern. Efforts by hostile forces to subvert and infiltrate have continuously escalated,” Guo was quoted as saying by the social media report. Guo’s long list of risks needing management included Covid-19 outbreaks, threats to financial stability, downward pressure on economic growth, inflation and telecoms fraud. What next for China’s zero-Covid stance as lockdowns spark economic worries? “As the economy slows down, some deep-rooted problems will emerge,” he said. “Once economic and financial risks are not properly handled, it’s extremely easy for them to spill over to social and political areas.” Securing the national congress remained an “overriding task” for law enforcement officials, Guo said. “The hosting of the 20th party congress is a key and celebratory event for the party and the country,” he said, pointing out the need to ensure a favourable economic, social and political environment for it. This comes as China faces concerns about the economic impact of its “dynamic zero” coronavirus elimination strategy involving strict border control, mass testing and lockdowns, which has also stretched hospital systems and sparked public anger, most recently in Shanghai. Apart from a third term for Xi as party secretary general, the 20th national congress is likely to see a reshuffle of the top leadership, with the new line-up to feature a mix of those already in top positions in the government, party organs, military and state-owned enterprises, and others elevated to national prominence. While the actual date for the congress has yet to be announced, it is expected to take place this autumn. Internal elections are already under way for the 2,300 delegates who will attend, according to earlier official announcements. Congress delegates will finalise the name list for the party’s Central Committee, whose 200 or so members will then decide who among themselves will sit on the Politburo, and its currently seven-member Standing Committee – the country’s top decision-making panel.