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First pages

Chapter 1 – Too Many, Too Close

The Chinese would never become complacent when it comes to national security and intelligence gathering. They were always fearful of foreign interference, and have an in-grained shame of their one hundred years of humiliation under foreign domination. Their thought processes and actions were continuing as normal, so they decided to show off their great navy. They wanted to make a statement for all to see, so, eleven ships continued west to intercept the Vietnamese oil rig and warship.


It was over-kill by a long way. Sending so many ships when half the number was more than reasonable. But knowing the Chinese, they would always over prepare. They would be thinking that maybe the two American ships would reverse course, and head back toward the rig, or some such maneuvre. This was not a surprise to Trung Kiên, but to the Americans, it was surprising the Chinese had reacted so strongly to the presence of the two American ships. Trung Kiên was a little bemused, and he was sure now that a strong message would be sent, maybe too strong were his thoughts.


The Chinese commenced their action by sending a message to the Vietnamese warship telling it to withdraw and take the oil rig with it. As the message was being sent, the Chinese ships were maneuvring into position to keep the Vietnamese warship in the line of fire. They received a message back from the Vietnamese warship telling them the rig is in open waters, as sanctioned by the United Nations, and they will not leave.


Perfectly correct, and a perfectly legal response! No one deluded themselves that the Chinese would take any notice of this as they never had before. They held the UN in contempt and really, they did not respect any international bodies be they related to laws of the sea, trade or anything else. They then sent a shot across the bows of the Vietnamese warship.


Without hesitation, the Vietnamese returned fire, and hit a Chinese frigate without causing too much damage. The range between the Chinese and the Vietnamese warship and rig was very close, so basically, whatever was fired was going to hit. Three missiles hit the Vietnamese ship within the next thirty seconds and she died instantly.


Before the Chinese had a chance to look back at the rig, ominous flashes appeared from within the rigs superstructure. Ten missiles were launched and three of their ships were hit. Two were hit by advanced Israeli sea skimming missiles, but only the Vietnamese knew this as they had been disguised among the swarm of older and slower missiles that were fired. Two of the old missiles also hit one of the closest ships.


The Chinese were too close, since they had seen the warship as the threat and had maneuvred to cover it only. One advanced destroyer and an equally advanced frigate were on their way to the bottom. Two missiles had hit each ship, and this much warhead assured a calamity for these ships. This engagement was lost the minute the Chinese decided to approach the rig. When they made the decision to ignore the rig, their fate was sealed. There were too many missiles on the rig for the Chinese to escape unscathed.


At the very moment the remaining Chinese ships opened fire at the rig, the rig flashed with light and sound such as a near clap of thunder. It looked like a box full of sky rockets going off only they were very big rockets. 172 short range old style Israeli missiles going in nearly every direction of the compass. It was over within forty seconds. 162 missiles had missed their mark, but ten had homed in on whatever random targets they could find. The reason, so many of the old missiles missed targets, was because only a few of the missiles were pointed in the direction of the Chinese. No one knew where the Chinese ships would take up station, so the missiles were aimed at all points.


One more destroyer and two more frigates were on the way to the bottom, and other ships damaged seriously. From a fleet of eleven ships, five were on the bottom or heading there, and four were limping home. Only two ships escaped unscathed and 526 Chinese souls had perished. It is almost unbelievable such damage was done to the Chinese ships, but it is perfectly realistic when thought about. The ships were just so close to the rig that the missiles could not miss. The Chinese had no time for defensive missile or Gatling gun targeting locks. Not only that, but the old missiles packed a decent punch. Anything they hit, was hit hard, and the Chinese never fired a defensive missile.


Trung Kiên had studied the reports from a previous incident when the Chinese warships had threatened a Spanish oil rig years earlier. It was the same scenario the Vietnamese had just presented to the Chinese again. As was the case years ago, the Chinese approached too close to the rig, as they never imagined a rig could be such a dangerous weapon. Who would think such as this anyways?


The Americans watching, and all the rest of the major nations, had never thought of arming a rig in this way. Probably because they had never had the need to, but now everyone will certainly think of it. It was a shame the Vietnamese had to fire so many of the older missiles from the rig, but it was essential that they must hit something. The Vietnamese could take no risks after all the efforts they had taken to “bloody” the Chinese noses. Should they not have caused some serious damage, they would have lost the confidence of those nations that had helped them. Well not now! They had amazed the world big time.


There was pandemonium on the Chinese ships that were left afloat. What a surprise of catastrophic proportions with a result only the Vietnamese could have imagined. Trung Kiên had designed a masterpiece and taken down one of the world’s best navies in spectacular fashion.


Now the true test of the plan was to begin. How would the Chinese react, and what destruction would they cause to Vietnam? There was no doubt now that they would react in force, because the destruction caused at the rig was just too huge. America’s foolish decision to send two ships instead of one, on the freedom of navigation exercise, had now opened a can of worms that closed off any chance the Chinese would not overreact, it was a certainty they would!


Trung Kiên, while being upset with the Americans, was not quite sure how he felt about the over achievement of his plan. It had its good and its bad points but surely this is the same with any victory. One never knows how an enemy will perceive a loss until they react to it.


While the Chinese were absorbing all this, the rig exploded. The Israelis, who later analyzed the action, and consulted with the Vietnamese, presumed the third “Skimmer” missile, the last of three demonstration models they had provided, had been prepped to explode in its case. The rigs whole top heavy super-structure blew in all directions and fifty souls instantly perished. What remained was four legs protruding from the ocean and some cross members scattered about the legs. The Chinese were flabbergasted and seriously damaged. Vietnam did not want to lose the men and it particularly did not want to lose the missile technicians. They needed technicians on-board the rig to arrange the first salvo of ten missiles. There was only time for ten missiles to be aimed directly at the ships at short notice, and the technicians, were unfortunately sacrificed.


Many around the world looked at the incident, and the planning involved, and tried to put themselves into the shoes of the Chinese. The big questions to all the military planners was, “How would we have approached the subject of the rig? Would we have ignored it and just focused on the Vietnamese warship? Would we have sent so many ships? Would we have been so close to the rig and warship?”


The answers were almost universally similar. “No, we would not have sent so many ships. Yes, we would have ignored the rig” and “It did not matter how close we were because even at forty miles, those missiles would still have hit some ships.


This was a policing action more than anything else. The two nations were not at war and there was no reason for the Chinese, or anyone else, to suspect war was going to start at the rig. So, the only real difference between Chinese and other nations’ thinking, was the number of ships the Chinese sent to the rig.


Chinese naval assets in the area were now serious limited. If any nation wished to take advantage of the situation, then this was an opportunity. The Chinese had concerns about this, but over the next two days, replacement assets started to arrive and by the end of four days, the Chinese were back in control of the area around the rig. They had weakened their presence further to the south to bring more assets up to the rig site and its vicinity. The Arleigh Burke class destroyer and the frigate had headed back toward the Carrier Fleet and they had been met by a second Burke and an advanced Australian frigate. They were conducting exercises some one hundred and twenty miles distant from the rig.


Both the Carrier Fleet, and the Burke destroyers saw the Chinese ships deploying from South to North leaving the South poorly protected. The Vietnamese had been so correct, but would any nation take advantage of this opportunity? While watching their activities, the Chinese navy were relaxed that the Americans had not been involved, and had no desire to become involved, in the action or to impede on Chinese assets in the South. A huge win for the Chinese and a disappointment of sorts for the Vietnamese.


None of the other nations in the area, or America, had the guts to take an obvious advantage. If the other nations had launched rigs into the area at that stage, then who knows what benefits may have been gained. It was a pathetic performance by Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, and now one could say, they deserve to be bullied as they have no spine. After a few days, it became too late for the other nations. China quickly bought ships from the Northern Fleets south and progressively moved them down the coast. When they were near to arriving at the area around the rig, the ships from the South that had gone up to the rig, began to move back down South. The Chinese breathed another sigh of relief!


Trung Kiên, in the meantime, was both happy and disappointed. Happy his plan had worked so well, and disappointed because he now saw no chance of any restrained action by the Chinese. He knew them well as had been proved by the success of his plan. Because of his knowledge of them, he knew what was coming next – another over-kill beyond any shadow of a doubt. He knew this not only because of their nature, he knew the Party in China now needed a huge victory to maintain the faith of its people.


The Chinese people knew what had happened. Enough of them have VPN internet services that could break the Chinese firewall, and gain information from international news services. In addition to this, the people in Hong Kong and Xiamen and other places would be seeing it all on the TV news. There had been no major public demonstrations in China, but there was certainly an air of disquiet, as evidenced by the amount of social media traffic. Chinese internal security closed of these channels as soon as possible, but word had leaked out.


The Party needed to maintain control and at the same time formulate a plan to punish the Vietnamese.Trung Kiên was in the position of Vietnam’s commander because he was a planner and tactician. He made allowance for all the probabilities he could think of, and then knew what his worst-case scenario was. He had always prepared on the basis the Chinese would overreact, so whatever else he had planned, obviously included preparations for the Chinese to act as he always suspected they may.


Regardless of all the above,he was still angry with the Americans. He understood why they took extra precautions, by sending two ships to run the freedom of navigation exercise, but they should have told him. It is no good only thinking about being a little safer when it was obvious the Chinese would react in a manner, different from normal. At this stage the Americans andTrung Kiên had no direct contact as he was still acting somewhat covertly.


The military command of both Vietnam and America were talking, andTrung Kiên wondered if he was being properly informed via his military commanders. America had never sent two ships on this type of exercises before, so the Chinese automatically responded as any nation would have. One ship was not seen as a threat, two ships, one of which was a Burke, would obviously be seen as a threat and responded to accordingly. Now, because the Americans wanted more safety, they had placed more risk into the Vietnamese future. He had hoped and expected to sink one or two ships but because of the American’s action, he has sunk five.


Trung Kiên made it very clear to the Americans, via his commanders, that they had made a grave mistake and had jeopardized Vietnam’s future. All the best plans in the world cannot ensure success if a member of the team disregards the plan. So, he will wait and continue to prepare for what is to come. His preparations were basically completed weeks ago, and he was confident in his planning, but now, he would make some small alterations as he deduced a somewhat larger retaliation was on its way.


This action at the rig, had been a successful start to the “dream of justice” plan. Vietnam, and its Colonel,Trung Kiên, had been designing this plan for a year or more, and now, there could be no turning back.

Chapter 2 – Dreams of Justice

In 1979, the Chinese launched an invasion of Northern Vietnam. China said the war was meant to be a slap on the wrist for the Vietnamese government, since Vietnam had invaded their ally, Cambodia. Unfortunately for the Chinese, the Vietnamese were too slick, and the Chinese got their butts kicked. At least 8,600 dead soldiers and many dead civilians later, the Chinese were back home with their tails between their legs. They had entered Vietnam with dubious purpose and paid a heavy price. Pol Pot was the butcher who led Cambodia, and Vietnam did not want him or his forces on their border. The world should thank Vietnam for displacing him. The long history of conflicts between Vietnam and China created great distrust and a loathing of China by the Vietnamese people.


This war, was the beginning of hostilities which lasted until 1990. In 1988, China invaded the Vietnamese islands and rocks of the Spratly Islands. Vietnam lost 64 gallant souls in this action and lost control of the islands. The pain and hate created by this loss still festers in the hearts of the Vietnamese. This hate sowed the seeds for Matt Fraser’s developing career on Hainan Island.


Vietnam lost the Spratly Islands to the Chinese because they could not match them at sea. Always brooding about this and always biding their time, the Vietnamese looked on with anguish as the Chinese started to take more and more islands. They wanted to push back, but other affected nations such as Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore were too politically inept to develop a workable plan. America was seeking allies in the region, but Vietnam was hesitant to move too close to its old adversary too openly.


Vietnam has always maintained the strength of their army and their surface-to-air missile capabilities. During the Vietnamese-American war, the Americans had bombed the north of Vietnam around Hanoi in disgraceful fashion. Huge areas of the North had been obliterated and the infrastructure and ports had been decimated. While the Vietnamese had managed to shoot down many American planes, they had not been able to stop the attacks. However, history had taught the Vietnamese lessons, and they kept their surface-to-air missile systems in the best shape that they could afford.


Over the years, the Russians had helped with this issue, and while they did not give the Vietnamese the best available, they gave them the best they could afford. However, Vietnam was no match for China on the ocean and no match for them in the air. In the air, they could basically only defend with surface-to-air missiles, while on the ocean they could not even do that. On land, history had proved that over a period they were a people who could not be defeated. Occupying Vietnam was a not an option for any nation who had any brains.


Regardless of their deficiencies, Vietnam decided they must make some attempt to give the Chinese cause to rethink their strategies. There could be no land invasion or threat to China, as the Chinese land forces were far too powerful. Same for the air force and the navy, but something had to be done and Vietnam resolved to take a stand.


Recent Chinese threats to oil drilling rigs, and Vietnamese withdrawal of same, provided a strategy to call the Chinese out, and gain world support and sympathy for their cause. In the back of the Vietnamese general’s minds was the idea America would welcome a chance to contain China. They hoped their gallant acts would tip the scales and gain them support.


Before they could start to seriously plan this exercise, they needed to move the discussions from military areas to intelligence areas. There was no way the generals could maintain a secret this big within the areas they worked. Simply speaking, they were not proficient in the design and management of this type of exercise. It was obvious that developing a concept and then planning the action would take a special type of person. This person needed to think “outside the box” and not be influenced by political considerations too much. Someone who the whole of Vietnam knew and who would always keep the nation in mind, but kill without reservation if the need arose. They chose their man carefully, and after much background information and security checking had been completed, they issued their orders.


Phạm Trung Kiên, a Vietnamese army colonel, was chosen since he had seen action and been successful. He was a behind-the-lines operative during the Chinese 1979 invasion, and he had progressed through the ranks of military and intelligence agencies since then. He fought the Americans as a teenager and continued fighting thereafter. At sixty-four years of age, he was young for a Vietnamese senior commander, but he was respected by all. He had spent much time in Russia studying military matters and languages, and he had studied in America. To this end, he became highly qualified in the Russian and English languages and an expert in covert military planning matters.


While studying Chinese history, he also tried to learn as much of the Chinese language as possible, because he believed he needed this to round out his qualifications. He was summoned and advised that he was to put together, and take command of a small team of experts. However, the team was never to exceed ten people, because maintaining secrecy would become increasingly difficult as numbers grew.


Trung Kiên was given independent operational control and could not be interfered with by any other military or political organizations. He reported to the generals and those in-turn to the political structure responsible for the “dream of justice.” Forhim, the task of choosing his team was not too difficult, because he had worked and lived with people who suited this task perfectly. He needed people who would be cool under pressure – clear thinkers, people who had a history of military training and some who could understand English, Russian and Chinese.


Finding people who could speak other languages was difficult but he did find them. Some were from the military, two from training exercises in Russia, two of his old 1979 buddies, two business executives who had vast experience dealing with the Chinese and two technical experts in advanced computers and missiles. Apart from himself, these last four members of the group were to become the most important. All had previous military training, and most had been, or still were, officers.


He knew that each one of the group needed to be a special type. Apart from the obvious qualities needed, they all must have a mind-set that accommodated the need for considered violence. There could be no mental weaklings among them, since their job required people who knew the probability of death resulting from their work was high. It mattered not whether they were soldiers or computer technicians; if they were told to kill, then they had to instinctively kill without question or remorse.


Such was the venture they were beginning, and such was the fact. He wanted a headquarters away from Hanoi. The headquarters needed to be equipped with the best available communications systems, and it had to be nondescript in character. A small, vacant warehouse was chosen, and fitting out commenced. The power supply was not sufficient, and the security was poor, so both matters became the first tasks completed. The priority now was the communication equipment, roof communication dishes and the computers that controlled all the paraphernalia. Other tasks were completed in order of their importance, and the last task completed was the living quarters. Now they were ready to begin.


During all the work, Trung Kiên had been locked away, thinking about what needed to be done and how to best achieve it. The plan had to be simple. There could be no complicated manoeuvres, or issues that would distract any of the final people who would put the plan into effect. The plan needed to be simple to his seniors, but it also needed to have a powerful punch. Risk needed to be fully detailed, and the benefits also needed full description. There was going to be no way the plan would not carry significant military and political risk. With operations such as this, “It was the nature of the beast!” No one can take any significant action against the Chinese without the risk of an unmanageable response. This the world knew!


So the plan must detail the absolute worst response imaginable. First, they needed to covertly seek assistance from a foreign power. They needed powerful people to understand something would happen soon, and that those powerful people should be thinking about the opportunities that may become available for them. Vietnam knew that America would not act without seeing the possibilities for huge commercial gain and political influence. But how to achieve contact with them? It could not be a direct political approach as the world would soon learn. The approach needed to be handled by an intermediary with sufficient clout to maintain secrecy and confidence.


For years, Israel had been slowly building trade and munition sales to Vietnam. Vietnam was poor, and the munitions trade involved older, less effective weapons since they were cheaper and easier to secure. The most advanced and potent munitions could not be purchased, because the Vietnamese could not afford them, and the Israelis may not have been comfortable to trade too many advanced weapons to them. Israel had developed many successful missile designs over recent years and had colluded with the Indian and Russian navies in the design of some of them. In terms of quality, they were equal to the best!


Would the Israelis give Vietnam something more advanced on some terms of payment that the Vietnamese could manage? Trung Kiên wanted an attack missile – not one used for defense, but surface-to-surface that could be used against ships. Trung Kiên vowed to find them, and he kept this issue in the forefront of his mind. Trade was growing strongly between Israel and Vietnam in many areas, so maybe the time was right for the question to be asked. But regardless, Vietnam would go ahead with any suitable plan. Although they did not have enough developed weapons to cause the Chinese too many problems, they had enough older weapons to nip at her ankles. They also did not have the means to deliver the munitions over a distance far enough to keep the Chinese at bay. But a plan was building!


Vietnam resolved to put faith in the Israelis business acumen and love of a dollar. They quietly dropped a few hints of their needs to the visiting sales manager of an Israeli munitions company, Myers. Bingo! Within three weeks, Myers was back in Hanoi, supposedly to display a batch of older anti-ship missiles which had become redundant to the Israelis. The Vietnamese knew they had hooked their fish. Meetings between the two had never happened so fast. They were ecstatic since they had no need to fear Chinese intelligence. The Chinese already knew about these arms sales, and the association between the Israeli company and the Vietnamese government, and so did every other nation of importance.


At the Israeli embassy were three long, large boxes that had been flown in as embassy supplies. Obviously, there were no customs or security checks, and the boxes sat there with no security guards or other special treatment. There was nothing to attract attention to the boxes with junk loaded on top of them. Even the Vietnamese security services did not know that the boxes were there.


They also did not know that Trung Kiên’s compound was already being watched. It was a very unfortunate chain of events that led to the capture of two people inside the compound’s security enclosure. Trung Kiên could not believe security had already been breached, since they had not yet even begun to develop a plan therein. How on earth had this happened, and who was responsible for the planning of the breach? These were questions that demanded an immediate and thorough investigation, or else the whole project needed to be called off.


Urgent requisitions of information from intelligence agencies, the police and civil authorities painted a picture which made no sense. The two men were Vietnamese citizens who had lived in Vietnam their entire lives. They led ordinary lives and had families and jobs, which seemed innocuous enough.Trung Kiên watched their interrogation from outside the room through a one-way window, and it was getting nowhere fast. He was astute enough to identify which of the men was the leader of the two, and he walked into the room and sat next to the interrogator facing the two men.


Speaking mandarin, he asked if they wanted a cigarette as he placed a box of cigarettes on the table. One of the poor men put his hand out and then instantly withdrew it.Trung Kiên withdrew his pistol and shot the man directly in the face. It was an awful sight as the man’s brains blew all over the wall and the body fell to the floor. The interrogator was in shock, and the second prisoner fainted on the spot. It was not known how the men were associated with China, or how they spoke the Chinese language, but answers needed to be found!


With that,Trung Kiên and the interrogator left the room, leaving an unconscious, unfortunate Chinese man with the body and the mess. Five minutes later, the unfortunate man woke up and surveyed his surroundings. He was an emotional wreck, and he was left alone there for thirty minutes.


WhenTrung Kiên re-entered the room, speaking Chinese, he said, “I have four questions. If your answer to any one of those questions is not believable, you die the second the answer passes your lips. First answer or last answer, it makes no difference. Do you understand?”


With that, he asked the first question: “What do you know about this compound and what we do here?”


“I know nothing, Sir, as we came here to find the answers to this question. We had an interest in the compound, who was here and what was being done.”


“Second question. Why were you interested in this compound in the first place?”


“We did not have any initial interest in the compound, Sir. We followed you here after you left your job at the military academy. We wanted to know what you were doing.”


“Third question. Why follow me?”


“My dead friend has worked at the academy for three years, and you were his hero, Sir. We always talked about you and studied your history and your career. When you left work there, we were curious about what you were doing because we knew whatever it was, it would have been important.”


“Fourth question. Who is your handler and contact point?”


“We don’t have a handler, Sir. We met a man at a Chinese function and talked to him for a long time. He said he was interested in any information that could be discovered from the military academy, and that he would pay us for any information which was interesting. We don’t even know his full name, since he only gave us a phone number and said to call him Dương.


“You are doing very well obviously because you are not dead, but I have thought of another question. What’s your story about spying on Vietnam?”


“Our grandparents were Chinese, and they moved here forty years ago. We always listened to their stories, learned about their lives and how difficult life here became for them. We have no particular loyalty to China, and decided to do whatever we could to make some money. We saw no major crime in this because it was only learning about you and what you were doing.”


One hour after leaving the room,Trung Kiênwas still furious. He could not believe the intelligence report did not record the dead one as working at the military academy. He found out soon enough that the dead one had not worked for the academy, and that he was an employee of a contractor who prepared food in the kitchens of the academy. All the prisoner had said was believed totally byTrung Kiên. These guys were amateurs trying to make a dollar, and they were both innocent fools. There was no doubt in his mind that the security complex was safe and their plans were still secure. He went back into the interrogation room, secured the phone number of the Chinese contact, shot the unfortunate kid in the back of the head, and then went back to work.


China thought that Vietnam needed a big sword to worry them, but instead, they only had some toothpicks. Vietnam knew toothpicks would be enough for their purpose: to create massive dramas without the need for big swords. The project was safe and well afoot.

Chapter 3 – the Hoa People’s Misery

The Hoa people are ethnic Chinese living as a minority group in Vietnam. They speak a dialect of the Han (Chinese) language group, and approximately one million Hoa live throughout Vietnam. They make up a disproportionately large percentage of the business and executive classes, and control the trade in many essential items. However, during times of stress with China, the Hoa have always felt the venom of the Vietnamese local citizenry. It mattered not that they were good citizens, since race always seemed to over-ride every other consideration. They had been wearing this problem for many centuries and while not accustomed to it, they always knew it would return from time-to-time.


These people are never anything but loyal to Vietnam. They have fought alongside the Vietnamese in their conflicts with foreigners and fought bravely. They know their homeland is Vietnam as they have never known anything else and nor did their grandparents and their grandparents before them. However, they have never thought of themselves as anything other than Chinese. Most will always speak Vietnamese when they are in public since they understand the sensitivities that centuries of warfare have created between the Chinese and Vietnamese. Nevertheless, they are a breed apart, and when emotions are stirred they usually standalone and suffer. It is unfortunate they suffer since the educated classes of Vietnam know the Hoa are a benefit to Vietnam. They help the economy generating good taxes for the Vietnamese government, and they are a quiet and reserved people.


In the year 2008, the Vietnamese fishing fleets were doing as they had always done, fishing near the Spratly Islands that the Chinese had captured from them in 1988. Since this time, the Chinese had been building artificial islands and enlarging rocky outcrops. The Chinese, for political reasons, had always turned a blind eye to Vietnamese fishing in this area. It was prudent to do so, because they had sworn they were only building these island bases for communication, sea rescue and the like, so they could hardly then turn on the Vietnamese fishermen.


The Chinese President had told the world China would never militarize these islands, but in usual Chinese fashion, the words were one thing and the actions were another. After many years of occupation, the Chinese still swear they have not militarized the islands, but satellite photos and other sightings reveal the extent of their deceit. Air-strips to support fighter planes and other military air-craft have been built and fighter planes regularly land on these strips. In addition, there are placements for missiles and bunkers and all the required infrastructure to support a military presence. Add to this the fact there are always naval ships and coast guard ships in the vicinity, and what you have is a military base, pure and simple.


On one fateful night, an armed Chinese security vessel got too close to the fishing fleet and one of the Vietnamese captains played a dangerous game of one-up-man-ship. He came off second best and his ship was rammed and sunk with the loss of one life. It was an easy matter for the Chinese to continue to turn a blind eye to the fishing, but they did not. The worst the fishing boat could have done was scratch some paint and it would always have come off second best. But no, times had changed, and the Chinese decided they did not really want the fishermen so close to their illegal islands.


These are the little incidents that cause tension in the world of neighbors, and international incidents can easy spread from here, to a far worse place. There simply was no need for any of these problems! What is the harm in a mighty nation, such as China, losing a few fish that international courts had said were not theirs anyways. Pride and “face”, as is usual with the Chinese, once again creates stress for others. It once again, began with a Chinese President who disregarded world opinion and sought to make his country greater, this time at the expense of some poor fishermen.


The rest of the Vietnamese fishermen, who witnessed this action, foolishly tried to ram the Chinese vessel knowing they had no hope of doing much more than a dint in her hull. But anger had got the better of them and they cut their nets and headed for the big ship. The Chinese wisely decided to withdraw as they realized the political consequences of what had happened, but in the confusion of so many ships in such a small area, another fishing boat unfortunately was sunk. Many of the fishermen had shotguns and small caliber rifles on their boats and they fired them at the ship. An absolute waste of time, but they were a proud people who despised the Chinese to a man. The Chinese managed to get out of the area and let the situation settle down. It was not the first time these events had happened, but it was the first time a life had been lost.


About me

James Bruce has loved reading history and politics since the day he was old enough to understand the words. The military and political dramas between the Scots and the English, up until the eighteenth century, was his passion. Living in the countries, and experiencing the cultures, adds authenticity to the characters in the books he writes. Cultures, histories and peoples have a lot to teach us, and James thrives on this learning. His books rely on history to produce lessons for today.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
During the last ten years, living and working in both China and Vietnam, I developed a keen interest in their joint histories. China has given Vietnam a hard time for centuries, and it is their enmity that prompted me to write this book. Their joint histories teach the lessons of their animosity.
Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
Given time, people will not live under a yoke of tyranny. Vietnam is a classic example of this. From days long gone until recent times, large and powerful nations have threatened, occupied and tried to control these people. The world should learn a lesson. Push back against bullies.
Q. Tell us about the cover and the inspiration for it.
A large decision related to the cover was the choice of a final graphic designer. In an attempt to gain feeling and emotion in the cover design, I selected a Vietnamese national as the designer for the final cover. The cover expresses the war and politics associated with the story.

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