The 18th National Party Congress is now underway in Beijing. Attendees are girding for a week of symbolic posturing and speeches, the culmination of which will be a new set of Chinese leaders and a new Chinese President for the next 10 years.
While this is a complicated process when things are running smoothly, this particular Congress is really critical. China is a mess. Recent economic challenges and corruption on a scale that has boggled even the most jaded of insiders are at the top of the "fix it" list.
Outgoing Chinese President Hu Jintao's replacement and China's presumptive new leader looks to be a man named Xi Jinping.
At 59 years old, he's a power player with close ties to the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
While he's not a military man per se, as the son of a revolutionary general he currently holds several significant offices that give him wide-ranging and very significant exposure to both the State and Communist Party.
What's significant about this is that there are three parallel strands in Chinese government structure: the Communist Party, State, and Military.
The Party and State are deeply intertwined, but the military is less so, except at the top levels of leadership. Consequently, China's new leader is intimately familiar with the Chinese military and also the likely new head of China's Central Military Commission.
I'm not so sure we've ever seen this exact combination before and I think it's going to challenge President Barack Obama in ways that he hasn't thought through yet.