2019 was a difficult year for China's leadership as it marked the 30th anniversary of the bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy student protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. China faced a host of challenges during the last 12 months, including its escalating battle with the U.S. for hegemony, unprecedented massive anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong and an international uproar over the alleged abuse of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.The list of the Chinese leadership's woes goes on. Growth in the communist-ruled country's economy, the world's second-largest after the U.S., has slowed sharply to its lowest rate since 1992.
President Xi Jinping, who doubles as the Chinese Communist Party's general secretary, detected signs that the year would be tumultuous early on. In a speech on Jan. 21, Xi sounded the alarm, citing a "black swan" and "gray rhino."