President Xi Jinping opened a twice-a-decade national congress by highlighting the need for the party to take on a more forceful role in society and economic development, and better address "grim" challenges facing the country.
Speaking at the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Xi laid out his vision of a ruling party that not only defends national security but also provides moral guidance to ordinary Chinese people as well.
He told hundreds of delegates in his three-and-a-half-hour address: "The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is no walk in the park or mere drum-beating and gong-clanging.
"The whole party must be prepared to make ever more difficult and harder efforts.
"To achieve great dreams there must be a great struggle."
Xi is expected to get a second five-year term as party leader at the gathering.
He also pledged that the party would have "zero tolerance" for corruption and said it would "continue to purify, improve and reform itself".
China's President has in the past warned that religious influences could infiltrate the country from abroad.
The country is currently ranked 39 in a list compiled by Open Doors of the 50 worst countries in the world for Christian persecution.