Your Wednesday Briefing: China Plans the Communist Party’s 20th Congress

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China’s Communist Party congress takes shape

China announced that the Communist Party’s 20th congress would be held in Beijing on Oct. 16.

The meeting — a pivotal event in China’s political cycle — is a choreographed ritual held every five years, bringing together about 2,300 delegates who rarely, if ever, dissent. The congress this year is poised to reanoint Xi Jinping as China’s top leader.

The meeting will also reveal the country’s broad policy direction and its next leadership lineup at a time of slowing growth at home and deepening strains abroad, especially with the U.S. Xi’s firm stands on Covid and Russia have inspired speculation that his draconian policies are vulnerable to challenge.

The current premier, Li Keqiang, has sometimes struck a milder tone. But he appears to have little power to challenge Xi and must soon step down as premier under constitutional rules.

Background: While it’s not guaranteed that the meeting will extend Xi’s time in office, his accumulation of powers suggests that he is highly likely to win a third five-year term. Top Chinese leaders have been settling into a pattern of 10 years in power, but party officials have depicted Xi as the visionary leader that China needs to secure its rise.

India widens the definition of “family”

India’s Supreme Court ruled that family benefits under the law must be extended to blended families, same-sex couples and other households it considers “atypical.” It is the latest in a series of court decisions to challenge the country’s conservative mores, and it could have major implications for the rights of women and gay people.

The court ruled in favor of a nurse whose employer denied her application for maternity leave because she had already taken leave to care for her husband’s children from a previous marriage.

“The concept of a ‘family’ both in the law and in society is that it consists of a single, unchanging unit with a mother and a father (who remain constant over time) and their children,” the two-judge bench said in the decision. D.Y. Chandrachud, the justice who wrote the order, said, “This assumption ignores the fact that many families do not conform to this expectation.”

Background: Family issues often pit unmarried parents against extended families in lengthy legal battles. In some cases, family courts have awarded custody to grandparents or other relatives because a child’s mother works outside the home.

In practice: The Supreme Court’s judgment is final, but its enforcement abilities are limited, leaving open the question of how much immediate effect it may have, particularly in more conservative parts of India.

Related: In Singapore, the repeal of a ban on consensual sex between men has brought hope to the L.G.B.T.Q. community after years of pain.

Dual lockdowns batter a crucial Chinese city

Shenyang, in China’s northeast, is a critical link between China and North Korea. It’s a hub for the select number of North Koreans allowed to work abroad, and a launchpad for foreign tourists, mainly Chinese, seeking to visit North Korea.

Local officials locked down Shenyang for one month this spring after detecting just a few dozen coronavirus cases among its nine million people. Residents have guarded their spending closely since the lockdown was lifted. The city also had perhaps China’s most extreme quarantine rules for travelers.

Because of the restrictions, North Korean residents and tourists have now mostly disappeared, removing an important customer base for many of the city’s businesses. Restaurants are quiet, and stores and services have seen substantial drops in revenue.

Data: There aren’t exact figures for the number of North Koreans in Shenyang, but North Koreans made 165,200 visits to China in 2018, the last year for which China published statistics.

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ARTS AND IDEAS

War is changing Ukrainian dance

In Kyiv, experimental dance artists are incorporating the war into their work. (One artist calls her new approach, a combination of modern dance and tactical training, “tactical choreography.”) And in the Netherlands, Alexei Ratmansky, one of the greatest living choreographers, has thrown himself into supporting Ukraine with an intensity matched by few other artists.

When the Russian invasion began, Ratmansky, who spent his childhood in Ukraine, was in Moscow working at the Bolshoi Ballet. He left immediately and said he was unlikely to return while President Vladimir V. Putin remained in power. It was a major shift for the choreographer, who did not see himself as a political artist. But Russia’s invasion changed his mind. “The situation brings art and politics together in such an obvious way, in a way I’ve never experienced before,” he said.

Now Ratmansky is helping build the United Ukrainian Ballet Company, a newly formed ballet company of Ukrainian dancers who have fled the war, in a repurposed conservatory in The Hague.

The company toured the Netherlands with a production of “Giselle” and will perform in London next month. The classic French ballet reflects Ratmansky’s new political stance. “We picked it because it is something that they know, and that requires a large number of dancers,” he said, “but also because it is not Russian.”

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What to Cook

J. Kenji López-Alt’s recipe for guacamole with grilled corn is based on “esquimole,” a mash-up of guacamole and esquites, the corn-mayonnaise-cheese dish.

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