Sounding confident as he tries to secure China’s prosperity and power, Xi Jinping says the country is entering a time of opportunity when “the east is rising and the west is falling.”

But behind closed doors the leader of the Communist Party has expressed a blunt reservation on officials: do not count our competitors, especially the United States. Despite its success domestically, China faces deep distrust in Washington and other western capitals.

Mr. Xi will unveil a blueprint for navigating China in the new global environment during a session beginning Friday of the Communist Party-controlled legislature, the National People’s Congress.

Dynamics: The Congress is part of the party’s drama to reaffirm the view that Mr. Xi is essential to steering China through meaningful change. This week he reminded party cadres to gather behind his leadership.

A long list of challenges: Beijing is trying to overtake an economy that relies on investment in heavy industry and infrastructure, grapples with an aging population, and keeps the Biden government’s promises to take a tough stance on the country. Chinese lawmakers also appear ready to support plans to recast Hong Kong electoral rules and remove the last vestiges of democracy there.

Covid-19 has already left a trail of death and despair in Brazil, one of the worst outbreaks in the world. Now the country is fighting a more contagious variant that can lead to renewed infection.

While Brazilians are throwing away precautions, testing is limited and vaccine adoption is slow. More than 1,700 Covid-19 deaths were recorded on Tuesday, Brazil’s highest one-day number of pandemics.

Studies suggest that a variant that swept through the city of Manaus may infect some people who have recovered from other versions of the virus. This variant has been found in about two dozen other countries, including the United States

Quote: “You need vaccines to get in the way of these things,” a Harvard epidemiologist said of the variants. “The immunity you receive when your cemeteries run out of space, even that, will not be enough to protect you.”

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

The German secret service has put the right-wing extremist alternative for Germany under surveillance as a potential threat to the country’s democracy, officials said on Wednesday. It is the first time in the country’s post-war history that such a measure has been taken.

The leaders of the AfD, as the party is called, routinely accuse Muslim immigrants of being criminals, attack the press and question democratic principles. During the coronavirus pandemic, AfD officials took part in protests, some of which have turned violent.

The AfD, the main opposition in the Bundestag, has gained popularity and established itself at all levels of politics.

Legal challenge: The decision was made last week but not disclosed until there is an ongoing court case that the AfD has launched to stop actions against them. Party members accused the federal government of taking a politically motivated move ahead of a national election.

The pandemic has disrupted work and migration around the world. In Australia, it has also exposed the unstable bedrock of the agricultural industry, a $ 54 billion-a-year goliath that relies on young, temporary aliens.

Coronavirus travel restrictions have left the country with a deficit of 26,000 farm workers, backpackers working in agriculture to obtain visa extensions. As a result, coast to coast harvests have been wasted. Some are calling for an immigration overhaul to bring the workers back. Our reporter took a look at the toll in the state of Victoria.

War Crimes Investigation: The International Criminal Court said it had launched an investigation into allegations of war crimes in the Israeli-occupied territories since 2014. Israel’s actions in the Gaza war in 2014 and rocket fire by Palestinian militants are likely to be scrutinized.

Toronto Van Attack: A man was convicted of murder and attempted murder for killing 10 people and injuring 16 while driving a van on the curb of a busy sidewalk in the Canadian city in 2018. The event still haunts the city, where mass murders are relatively rare.

Rape case in Australia: A sexual misconduct settlement touched the highest levels of government when Attorney General Christian Porter stepped on camera and categorically denied he raped a girl as a teenager.

Iraq missile attack: A rocket fire was fired at an Iraqi base in Anbar Province – one of the last remaining Iraqi bases where US forces are stationed. The attack came just under a week after the US attacked Iran-backed militia targets on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

Snapshot: Above, a bobcat caught on camera on a Massachusetts reservation. Game cameras are indispensable scientific tools. In your yard, they may be able to answer simpler questions like: Who is tunneling under the porch? And what’s going on at the bird feeder when you’re not looking?

What we read: This fun McSweeney essay on the short afternoon walks that many of us have become dependent on.

Spend hours of fun with our collection of home ideas what to read, cook, see and do while staying home safe.

A 37-year-old song helped make a comeback of a Japanese music genre called city pop.

A YouTube video titled “Plastic Love” by Mariya Takeuchi has received more than 56 million views since 2017. For many young fans it was an entry point into city pop, as Cat Zhang explains in Pitchfork. The genre dates back to the 70s and 80s and was influenced by R&B and jazz. It often combines shimmering vocals with funky production and the result is a bubbly sound.

City Pop “promises a romantic escape across the Pacific that is somewhat detached from reality and stimulates the imagination of young homebodies who scroll online,” writes Zhang.

The YouTube algorithm is in part behind the genre’s online resurgence. Soothing, atmospheric music is popular on the platform and can be played repeatedly in the background while users work. Many of these listeners end up discovering City Pop in their video recommendations. As Rolling Stone reported, trying to identify the source of the genre’s sudden popularity, a Reddit user wrote, “citypop is also known as you cleancommendationcore.”

The songs also reach new audiences through TikTok. One trend on the platform, writes Zhang, was for Japanese users to play a city pop song for their mothers in 1979 that shone and sang along in response.

That’s it for this briefing. Until next time.

– Melina

Thank you
Carole Landry helped write this briefing, and Sanam Yar wrote the backstory. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh took the break from the news. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

PS
• We listen to “The Daily”. Our latest episode looks at Bill Gates’ efforts to ensure the Covid-19 vaccine reaches poorer countries.
• Here is our mini crossword puzzle and a clue: The most widely spoken language in Iran (five letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• Lisa Lerer was promoted to national political correspondent after serving two and a half years as lead author and moderator of the On Politics newsletter.

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