"Even a minor incident could spark war."
- China naval commander, Admiral Wu Shengli

"The possibility of miscalculation or mistake is real."
- US Vice President Joe Biden

A cloud of war hangs over the South China Sea. China has been testing the resolve of the region to its limits. The focus is a sprawl of barren islands claimed by Beijing and many other governments. Until now, there have been military and diplomatic stand-offs.

Then, without notice, China launches a surprise attack on its historical enemy, Vietnam and lands troops on the disputed Paracel and Spratly island groups.

Suddenly, East Asia erupts. Western governments react and the world comes to the brink of war.

DRAGON STRIKE, THE MILLENIUM WAR is a factual thriller examining the global impact of a hostile China. Since publication it has become a substantive point of debate at the highest level of global policy making.

Full reviews

The authors know their stuff, and their timing is impeccable. Humphrey Hawksley of the BBC and Simon Holberton of the Financial Times, both old Asia hands, have constructed an ingenious thriller based on the premise that a resurgent China – soon to become the largest economy on earth – will clash with that other great Pacific Power, America. - Christopher Lockwood, Telegraph

In the end this perceptive book is really about what is now being called the China Problem. Is China on the verge of becoming  the ham-fisted bully of Asia? And if so, what should - or can - the rest of the world do about it. The alternatives suggested in Dragon Strike are not appealing. - Barry Hillenbrand, Time

Dragon Strike is a cracking read by two fine journalists who know what they are talking about. Realistic and gripping, it goes to the heart of some of the most worrying issues with which the world will be grappling in the millennium. - Chris Patten, Chancellor, Oxford University, and last governor of Hong Kong

After the absolutism which the Cold War threatened, and the cataclysmic and cathartic wars which have erupted since, this return to the notion of calculation in war is strangely chilling. Dragon Strike's international and strategic insight is formidable. - Allan Mallinson, Spectator

The central theme comes through loud and clear: The United States has little idea why it is still in the Western Pacific (other perhaps than Korea). As events every year since 1992 have shown, it has no policy towards China's seawards expansionism, instead taking naïve comfort in the benefits of "engagement" with a China whose goals have been stated and are unlikely to be changed by smiling faces. Hawksley and Holberton may be too close for comfort. - Philip Bowring, International Herald Tribune

These are two experienced and highly respected journalists, who work for the BBC and Financial Times respectively. Their depiction of China under the post-Deng leadership as a threat to its neighbours and as willing to take risks in challenging western interests is graphic and, in its own terms, realistic. The (Dragon Strike) scenario contains many finely judged and ingenious episodes, not least of which tells how a Chinese military man manipulates the international financial markets to raise sufficient funds to underwrite the costs of the war. - Michael Yahuda, Financial Times



Too close to the bone to laugh away

Home Run


THE THIRD WORLD WAR tells the story of four world leaders pitted against the raw power of failing states. A Russian president who needs to rein in his ambitious generals;  an Indian prime minister experienced in the lethal consequences of the wrong decision; a Chinese president faced with competing forces within his country; and, in the White House, a man who tries to make peace with those who only want catastrophe.

Flashpoint One - Pakistan

Flashpoint Two - North Korea

The opening stages of the Third World War are more confusing and terrible than those in any war in history. A terror attack on the Indian parliament kills hundreds. Hours later a North Korean missile hits a US military base in Japan. As the next few days unfold, those once counted as allies become enemies, and the comfortable lives of citizens in modern societies verge of physical and emotional collapse.

Ultimately, four men pitted against each other because of events they fail to control.





Humphrey Hawksley

Humphrey Hawksley is an author, commentator and foreign correspondent. He has reported on key trends, events and conflicts from all over the world.



Humphrey's Latest Reports

Democracy appears to be malfunctioning in a fast-paced world with a large number of voters convinced that systems are rigged by wealthy and educated elites. The real threat to Western democratic systems is now itself. We are suffering from hubris.

Click here: Capitalist Democracy's Left-Behinds Challenge the System


Britain is putting down new markers on the global stage as it prepares to leave the European Union. But can it risk annoying China if it's to succeed.

Click here: Humphrey Hawksley - UK's nuclear plant imbroglio fuels post-Brexit debate


Vietnamese fishermen say they are being attacked by China with increasing regularity. Their boats have been rammed, equipment broken and crewmen beaten up. Vietnam accuses Beijing of trying to force them out of the South China Sea. Humphrey Hawksley and photographer Poulomi Basu went out of a boat with them.

Click here: Vietnam's fishing war of the South China Sea


The global tea industry is worth $20 billion a year, but on India's tea estates millions of workers and their families suffer from hunger, disease, human rights abuse and exploitation.


India's economy is the 10th largest in the world, but millions of the country's workers are thought to be held in conditions little better than slavery. One story - which some may find disturbing - illustrates the extreme violence that some are subjected to. They tried to escape and were punished with an axe.


Humphrey Hawksley reports from the brick kilns of India where more than two million people feed the booming construction sector and economic miracle by working in conditions campaigners describe as 'slavery.' Their work goes into building the skyscrapers, offices and call centres, but the bricks they make are now being condemned as 'blood bricks.'


Guatemala in Central America has one of the worst records of violence, corruption and treatment of workers. Humphrey Hawksley travels through through the country asking why the European Union is now  giving it new trade privileges.  BBC's Our World - Guatemala's Sweet Deal.


Humphrey Hawksley goes to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda to investigate the link between minerals, war and business. These are the raw materials used in our every day lives for computers, phones and household appliances. Humphrey asks if a little-known American law might force a change to how multi-national companies do business in the developing world and if that could speed up an end to poverty and conflict.


Globalisation has brought the world's goods to the west. But how can consumers be sure they are buying food and clothing manufactured without harming workers - especially children? Humphrey Hawksley travels to the cotton fields and factories of India and discovers rampant abuse and child labour.


For years, the chocolate industry knew their raw products were farmed in unacceptable conditions - using slavery and children. Humphrey Hawksley first exposed the cocoa scandal more than a decade ago. Returning again to the Ivory Coast, he finds children taken from their parents and forced to harvest cocoa with little evidence that chocolate makers plan to change things.



Dancing with the Devil
Shortly after dark as the solitary stilted "devil dancer" walked back into the Liberian forest, we headed off, but soon found the road blocked and in the darkness it was difficult to see why.....

And all of Humphrey Hawksley's reports for the BBC's much loved FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT

Lessons of Failed States: Afghanistan, Bosnia, Liberia
Yale Global

Rush into Democracy and you Rue the Results
Evening Standard