Over the past decade, many nations have demonstrated a growing interest in legal warfare or “lawfare.” In the United States, lawfare discussions are focusing on the interplay between the law and counterinsurgency operations. Specifically, the U.S. is concerned that opponents, especially insurgents, may employ legal means to secure victories that they cannot obtain on the battlefield.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC), and, in particular, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), is approaching lawfare from a different perspective: as an offensive weapon capable of hamstringing opponents and seizing the political initiative in wartime.
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.