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China's Global Hybrid War

Through psychological warfare, propaganda, and a cynical misuse of law, China is advancing its revisionist territorial ambitions without having to fire a shot. The world’s democracies must wake up to the increasingly aggressive hybrid war that President Xi Jinping is waging.

NEW DELHI – As the world’s largest, strongest, and longest-surviving dictatorship, contemporary China lacks the rule of law. Yet it is increasingly using its rubber-stamp parliament to enact domestic legislation asserting territorial claims and rights in international law. In fact, China has become quite adept at waging “lawfare” – the misuse and abuse of law for political and strategic ends.

Under “commander-in-chief” Xi Jinping’s bullying leadership, lawfare has developed into a critical component of China’s broader approach to asymmetrical or hybrid warfare. The blurring of the line between war and peace is enshrined in the regime’s official strategy as the “Three Warfares” (san zhong zhanfa) doctrine. Just as the pen can be mightier than the sword, so, too, can lawfare, psychological warfare, and public-opinion warfare.

Through these methods, Xi is advancing expansionism without firing a shot. Already, China’s bulletless aggression is proving to be a game changer in Asia. Waging the Three Warfares in conjunction with military operations has yielded China significant territorial gains.

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