On the first count, I found myself reading narrative that served only to explain the author's vision of the future, rather than developing the characters or the plot. That is something I don't remember from any Clancy book. I don't fault the realism of the scenarios the authors project, but the book has moments that read more like a Pentagon policy paper than a novel.
My second criticism is that the nation states and the way they interact reflect a 20th-century paradigm that I think is unlikely to hold in the future. At the outset, the only change is that the Chinese Communist Party has been replaced by an oligarchy of business, administrative and military leaders. One could argue that a similar change--with true elective Democratic and Republican leaders being replaced by an oligarchy of our own--is underway and likely to be completed faster in the United States than in China. The authors acknowledge the power of non-governmental organizations in a peripheral way, but I think miss an opportunity to explore the power of such organizations, in a true information age, to reshape the relationship between nation states and between people and their government.
Given the choice to project cold-war international relations into this narrative, it perhaps is inevitable that the plot revolves around a scenario that portrays a monolithically evil China versus the United States. Something as broad as "the next world war" may have to sacrifice some realism at the individual level from the pen of most authors, but I found myself hoping for some Boris Pasternak or Herman Wouk moments that never came. So I qualify my conclusion--that this is a readable and entertaining book--with the observation that the authors care more about their geopolitical projection (and its ability to sell books) than they do about a realistic portrayal of individual human behavior.