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Winning Without Fighting: Chinese Legal Warfare

09.18.23

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.

Winning Without Fighting: Chinese Legal Warfare

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.

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