China’s Xi Jinping refers to “rule of law,” “law-based” and “justice” when he writes about his philosophy of China’s legal system. In practice, Xi increasingly uses law as a weapon to crack down on dissent, while simultaneously employing it as a weapon in the CCP’s quest for world hegemony. China uses the law to silence dissent abroad, going so far as to prosecute foreign nationals for alleged crimes committed outside of the country.
When Xi came to power, Chinese authorities launched “Operation Fox Hunt” to purge Xi’s opponents. China sent hundreds of law enforcement officers across the world, including the U.S., tracking, harassing, threatening and arresting its targets abroad and returning them to China.
The growing threat of China’s lawfare
In March, Qi Shi, the official journal of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), published Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s article, in which he explains how to construct the Chinese socialist legal system. This is an important development. Compared with his predecessors, Xi’s ideas of law are more deceitful because they use familiar terms such as “rule of law,” “law-based” and “justice.” In practice, Xi increasingly uses law as a weapon to crack down on dissent to ensure regime security, while simultaneously employing it as a weapon in the CCP’s quest for world hegemony.
Winning Without Fighting: Chinese Legal Warfare
Over the past decade, there has been growing interest in legal warfare or “lawfare.” While the U.S. is focusing on the interplay between the law and counterinsurgency operations, China is approaching lawfare from a different perspective: as an offensive weapon capable of hamstringing opponents and seizing the political initiative. Indeed, Chinese planners are almost certainly preparing legal war plans aimed at controlling the enemy through the law or using the law to constrain the enemy. Consequently, the United States must take steps to prepare for the possibility of legal warfare and incorporate defensive measures into its strategic, operational, and tactical policies.