The Bear and the Dragon
First edition cover
|Series||Jack Ryan universe|
|Publisher||G.P. Putnam's Sons|
|Pages||1028 pp (hardback edition) & 1152 pp (paperback edition)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-399-14563-X (hardback edition) & ISBN 0-425-18096-4 (paperback edition)|
|LC Class||PS3553.L245 B42 2000b|
|Preceded by||Rainbow Six|
|Followed by||Red Rabbit|
Sergey Nickolayevich Golovko, the chairman of the SVR and friend of President Jack Ryan, is being chauffeured to Moscow Centre in an armoured white Mercedes when somebody shoots at an identical car with an RPG7, killing the occupants. Due to the quick actions of his driver, a former Spetsnaz soldier, Golovko survives the incident. He is left to ponder whether the RPG was meant for him or not.
The investigation is slow to turn up leads, and weeks pass with only a few leads on the murder investigation. A few weeks after the assassination attempt, a CNN camera crew in the People's Republic of China witnesses the murders of the Papal Nuncio to Beijing, Cardinal Renato diMilo, and a Chinese Baptist minister, Yu Fa An, when the two attempt to stop Chinese authorities from performing a forced abortion on one of Yu's followers. In reaction, an international boycott is imposed on China. With its economy already struggling due to recent military expansions, China hastens its planned invasion of Siberia to access newly discovered oil and gold fields. The operation includes an attempt to assassinate the Russian president, Grushavoy, and his top-ranking advisor.
Ryan persuades NATO to admit Russia, and promises assistance against China to President Grushavoy. When the Chinese enter Siberia, the Russians repel their invasion force with help from the United States and its NATO allies, causing heavy casualties on the Chinese side. The U.S. Navy attacks the Chinese mainland's coastal defenses and destroys much of the Chinese navy's aging fleet while it lies in port. F-117 Nighthawks destroy railroad bridges in Harbin and Bei'an with GBU-27 Paveway IIIs, seriously damaging Chinese lines of communication for their army in Russia. Against his advisors' opinions, Ryan decides to broadcast CNN's coverage of the war, plus direct feeds from U.S. reconnaissance drones, over a CIA website to counter the Chinese government's propaganda about the war's status and purpose.
Beijing's increasingly desperate leaders decide to ready their ICBMs for a potential launch. A joint NATO-Russian special operations team led by Rainbow operative John Clark is dispatched to destroy them. The team destroys all but two of the Chinese missiles. Of the two that launch, one is shot down by an AH-64 Apache while the second heads toward Washington, D.C.. Ryan's family is evacuated, but Ryan himself decides at the last minute to stay behind on board a docked naval ship, the USS Gettysburg, which has an experimental anti-missile system. Ryan watches as the ship destroys the ICBM at the last possible moment.
Late at night, a group of Chinese students, spurred on by what they have witnessed through the CIA website, march through Tiananmen Square and invade a Politburo meeting, setting the stage for an overthrow of the government. A reformist Politburo member, Fang Gan, takes over and arrests the rest of the Communist leadership, ordering an immediate withdrawal of Chinese forces from Siberia. Fang then holds an open discussion with student leaders that starts China's transition to democracy.
The novel also carries a number of subplots, including an old Russian sniper credited with the initial discovery of gold in Siberia, a Russian Army general (who led the defense of the Bright Star facility in The Cardinal of the Kremlin) seeking to fully retrain his forces in time for the Chinese invasion, and a Japanese-American CIA agent who seduces Fang Gan's secretary into installing a computer program that collects sensitive government information.