S&P Global Ratings downgraded China’s long-term sovereign credit rating on Thursday, less than a month ahead of one of the country’s most sensitive political gatherings, citing increasing risks from its rapid build-up of debt. S&P’s one-notch downgrade to A+ from AA- comes as Beijing grapples with the challenges of containing financial risks stemming from years of credit-fueled stimulus to meet ambitious government economic growth targets. The demotion follows a similar move by Moody’s Investors Service in May. While S&P’s move put its China ratings on par with those of Moody’s and Fitch, the timing raised eyebrows just weeks ahead of a twice-a-decade Communist Party Congress (CPC), which will see a key leadership reshuffle and the setting of policy priorities for the next five years. “The downgrade is a timely reminder for the authorities that China needs to bite the bullet on some of the more painful reforms,” Rob Subbaraman, an economist at Nomura in Singapore, told Reuters.