Victor Delgado beat the alien ship to Earth, but just barely. Not soon enough to convince skeptical governments that there was a threat. They didn't believe that until space stations and ships and colonies went up in sudden flame.
The Formic invaders sent three enormous landing craft to southeast China, and used gas to defoliate the area and kill all life. Despite suffering stupendous losses, the Chinese government refused any outside help.
Before the landing, Mazer Rackham had been training the Chinese military on a new transport aircraft, the HERC, in exchange for training on their new invention, drill sledges that can tunnel quickly underground. During the invasion, he saved Bingwen, a very intelligent eight-year-old Chinese boy, but was soon shot down by Formics. Bingwen reached his downed HERC and saved his life, with the remote help of Mazer's romantic interest, Kim Arnsbrach. Bingwen and Mazer then set off to destroy the nearest Formic lander.
The Mobile Operations Police (MOP), a small but elite international force, entered China (without official authorization). The MOPs saved Bingwen and Mazer from a Formic attack. Mazer managed to find some drill sledges and HERCs to transport them close to the lander. MOP Captain Wit O'Toole obtained a tactical nuclear weapon from an anonymous Chinese individual who did not agree with their government's stance on foreign assistance. They destroyed the lander, but Captain Shenzu arrived and placed Mazer under arrest.
Meanwhile, Victor and Imala Bootstamp managed to drift close to the Formic scout ship, using a disguised ship provided by Lem Jukes to avoid being destroyed. Victor breaks into the alien ship through a gun opening.