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Literature / Dragon Strike (1997)

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Dragon Strike (long title: Dragon Strike: A Novel of the Coming War With China; alternate title: Dragon Strike: The Millennium War) is the first novel written by British journalists Humphrey Hawksley and Simon Holberton and first published in 1997, concerning a hypothetical war in 2001.

The novel weaves the story of China attacking Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Philippines to fortify its territorial claims to the oil-rich South China Sea. This attack was ordered by Wang Feng, the fictional new leader of China. Japan, the United States and other countries are eventually brought into the conflict, putting the world at the brink of a nuclear war. The story illustrates the complex relations between the United States and China on economic ties and ideologies.


Dragon Strike provides the following tropes:

  • Alternate History: Originally presented as Future History. In our timeline in 2001, well... things went a different way.
  • Big Bad: Chinese President Wang Feng. Doubles as President Evil.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In the end, the Western Powers backed down from the fight in the South China Sea conflict after being threatened of nuclear warfare. The reason was because even though a Chinese attack on a major U.S. city on the West Coast would trigger a harsher American response, the U.S. President did not want to murder billions of innocent Chinese citizens in exchange. Instead of nuclear war, all participants in the conflict negotiated for a peaceful solution. In the end, it was deemed China would control most of the South China Sea islands.
    • Pyrrhic Victory: In the case of China. While they controlled most of the South China Sea by the end of the novel; their military was overextended trying to combat the Americans, Australians, British, French, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese forces. Losses were extreme.
      • The Senkaku Islands at the end of the war became joint-administrative region by both China and Japan.
      • The government of North Korea collapses after the PLA sponsors a coup. South Korea and China are currently in talks on how to reunite the entire peninsula.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Inverted. The French helped Vietnam, their former colony, in kicking Chinese ass on the battlefield.
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  • China Takes Over the World: The main theme of the novel is China taking the Spratly Islands all for China.
  • Curbstomp Battle:
    • The PLA seize a British-Japanese oil rig in the South China Sea, with the workers posing no resistance. Averted since the workers were not armed with any weapons.
    • Chinese soldiers easily defeated a Filipino garrison stationed in one of the islands and made them surrender because the Filipinos lack materials and supplies.
    • Heavily invoked should China have launched a nuclear attack on the United States, the Americans would have turned China into a nuclear wasteland.
    • Averted with Malaysia and Brunei, who ordered their troops to stand down rather than resist.
  • Failed Future Forecast: The authors predicted that China will not have aircraft carrier capability in 2015 (in-universe). In our timeline, China commissioned its first aircraft carrier in September 2012 (an ex-Soviet/Ukrainian aircraft carrier purchased in 2011).
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Special Forces from the U.S., the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Vietnam equally had their successes against the Chinese.
  • Enemy Mine: Vietnamese and Taiwanese troops stationed in one of the islands put aside their territorial claims and band together to fight the Chinese. They manage to harass the invaders before the Chinese called in air support.
    • In-universe, France and Vietnam has signed a mutual defense treaty. Parts of the treaty would invoke French military response in the case Vietnam was attacked by a foreign belligerent. Naturally, the treaty was invoked following the Chinese attack with the French (Vietnam's colonial master in the past) kicking Chinese ass in the Sino-Vietnamese border.
  • Hold the Line: What some Vietnamese and Taiwanese soldiers did before retreating under heavy air fire.
  • La Résistance: The Vietnamese can be seen as this as they pose a significant resistance against China.
  • Last Stand: Horribly averted with the Philippine forces, who put of a lackluster fight against the invading Chinese forces.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Chinese sink an American amphibious assault ship, the USS Peleliu that was bound to rescue the hostages of the seized oil rig.
  • Multinational Team: The international forces are composed of the nations that China attacked, Japan, the United States, and Commonwealth Forces such as Australia and New Zealand.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The book mentions several past presidents and leaders in both U.S. and China.
  • Nuclear Option: With their forces overextended, China threatens to launch nuclear missiles (from mobile launchers, silos, and nuclear submarines) to the U.S. and the UK. Naturally, the U.S. planned to nuke major Chinese cities, industrial areas, and military bases should China have blinked first.
  • President Evil: Already mentioned above.
  • Russia Is Western: Russia notably stays neutral on the conflict and condemns the Chinese attacks on Vietnam, since Russia and Vietnam still cooperate post-USSR. At one point in the novel, the Russian Ministry of Defense considered canceling the sales of military hardware to the PLA.
  • Shown Their Work: The Chinese terms for the Paracel and Spratly islands are used by the authors. They are aware of the geopolitics around the area (i.e. the United States being allies with the Philippines and Japan, as well as protecting Taiwan). Furthermore, the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1995-1996 was also mentioned.
    • The researchers did their homework in researching Chinese military hardware, which at the time to novel was written, was virtually unknown to the West.
  • World War III: Almost occurred when the U.S. and the UK were about to launch nuclear missiles to China in response to deployment of Chinese mobile nuclear launchers and a single Chinese nuclear missile in the Pacific.
  • Zerg Rush: The People's Liberation Army (PLA) tends to this while capturing islands in the South China Sea.