As he enters his new term as China’s president and most powerful leader in decades, Xi jinping is signaling that he is steeling for an era of superpower contestation, even as he seeks to revive a battered economy.

There was never serious doubt that Xi, as dominant as any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, would be endorsed for a third five-year term as state president at an annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, the top legislature. He had already, in October, secured five more years in the more powerful role of Communist Party general secretary. On Friday, 2,952 congress delegates — picked for their loyalty to the ruling Communist Party — duly delivered, voting unanimously to keep Xi as president.

But with his personal power seeming secure, Xi faces the urgent challenge of reviving China’s economy, which faltered under three years of stringent COVID-19 restrictions, crackdowns on property developers and tech giants, and escalating tensions with the United States and its allies.