Communist China’s Legal Warfare Targets Overseas Dissidents


The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is trying to extend its security law to the rest of the world to crack down on Chinese dissidents abroad (and everyone else).

The Chinese communists have continued to develop and refine their Three Wars Doctrine since it was approved by the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee and the Central Military Commission in 2003. They focus on helping the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) win wars by other non-kinetic means. The Three Wars involve softening opponents through public opinion warfare, legal warfare, and psychological warfare.

Much Western attention has been drawn to the PLA’s use of the Three Wars in conjunction with the CCP leadership, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese state media, as the CCP targets its main opponent, the United States, with particular emphasis on propaganda and psychological elements of the strategy.

The CCP is known to be trying to shape public opinion through synchronized messaging and the use of influence agents in Western media to echo Beijing’s narrative. These efforts have been modernized with social media campaigns, including fake accounts and “bot farms.”

Because the exploitation of the Three Wars is so ingrained in the CCP through indoctrination and common use, the strategy is being deployed to advance other communist aims and objectives alongside ongoing hybrid warfare against the United States and its allies.

For example, the legal warfare element of this strategy (adapted by American leftists and renamed “lawfare”) is also relentlessly used by the CCP to achieve another of its long-term goals: the subjugation of the overseas Chinese, followed by the subjugation of the rest of the world under a “world leadership with Chinese characteristics”.

Let’s examine the topic.

Two main pillars of the CCP’s legal warfare

The CCP believes that all people of Chinese descent are subject to the Party’s laws, dictates and arbitrary whims, regardless of their citizenship and place of residence. After more or less pacifying the Chinese at home over the past few decades, Xi Jinping and the CCP leadership are stepping up efforts to control the Chinese abroad.

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Two key pillars of Beijing’s judicial warfare to control every Chinese under the sun (and eventually the rest of us) are the Civil Code and the National Security Law.

The Civil Code was adopted at the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress on May 28, 2020. It governs Chinese society on a micro scale – economic, social, travel, education, etc. – and mandates compliance by all Chinese citizens regardless of residency. Article 1 boldly states that the Code is for the “development of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the continuation of socialist core values.” And “carry on” is a clear signal of the CCP’s intentions: to spread socialism with Chinese characteristics everywhere.

Epoch Times photo
Students read the civil code in Yantai city, east China’s Shandong province, on Nov. 30, 2020. (Cost Photo/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Just a month later (no coincidence!), in June 2020, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (China’s stamp legislation) passed the National Security Law, which has 66 articles and covers four areas of criminal activity: secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign or external parties powers.

Although the focus is on Hong Kong’s rapid integration into mainland China, most observers believe its application in Hong Kong is a test run for its overseas expansions because the written law applies to everyone anywhere in the world, and is expansively extraterritorial in its scope. According to Article 38, it can also apply to offenses “committed outside the region by a person who does not have a permanent residence in the region”.

Testing the pliers

What do these two legalistic tongs mean for people outside of China? Potentially a lot if the rest of the world allows the CCP to impose itself unopposed.

In 2014, Xi ordered the Ministry of State Security to conduct Operation Fox Hunt, which aims to target, intimidate and kidnap Chinese political dissidents and their families living abroad under the auspices of Xi’s “anti-corruption campaign.”

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FBI Director Christopher Wray previously described the purpose of Fox Hunt: “Fox Hunt is a comprehensive bid by Secretary-General Xi to target Chinese nationals whom he sees as a threat and who live outside of China around the world. We speak of political rivals, dissidents and critics trying to expose China’s widespread human rights abuses.”

Fox Hunt was later integrated into Operation Skynet (shadows of “The Terminator” movies!), which ABC News says has a global mission focused on “recovering funds and arresting international refugees” from the CCP judiciary.

The National Security Law and the Civil Code have now provided the legalistic background and excuse for the CCP’s persecution, capture and persecution of people under Operation Skynet and Operation Dragon, which are considered violations wherever they are in the world .

Some examples:

In August 2020, Hong Kong authorities issued arrest warrants for six overseas democracy activists, including a US citizen, who were “wanted on suspicion of inciting secessionist sentiment and conspiring with foreign countries”.

On September 7, 2022, a Hong Kong court convicted five speech therapists of sedition under the National Security Law after they published a series of illustrated children’s books about cartoon animals “which amounted to ‘indoctrinating’ children to support separatism and hatred of Beijing. ”

Hong Kong Police
Police stand guard as a prison van arrives at the High Court in Hong Kong on the first day of the trial of Tong Ying-kit, the first person to be charged under a new national security law, June 23, 2021. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

According to a Telegraph report, on September 15 China opened its latest secret “overseas police service centers” in Chinese restaurants and shops across the UK. According to The Washington Free Beacon, this is the newest of 54 such police centers around the world that the CCP is running in conjunction with the United Front Work Department’s new foreign mission. The police centers have been accused of harassing and blackmailing Chinese political dissidents to “encourage” their return to China for prosecution under the National Security Law.

On August 10, it was reported that Taiwanese national Yang Chih-yuan, who lived in the Chinese city of Wenzhou and was previously arrested by the National Security Bureau on suspicion of participating in separatist activities and endangering national security, was “put under surveillance ” was ” by Chinese authorities, according to Chinese state media. This is a reminder that under the Civil Code there is no freedom of expression in communist China.

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On July 7, the US Department of Justice announced that a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of New York entered indictments “indicting five defendants of various crimes related to a transnational program of repression organized on behalf of the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)” aimed at US citizens whose political views are considered “unpopular” by Beijing. The CCP is getting bolder in its operations in the United States!

Final Thoughts

The CCP has adopted the three-war principle of legal warfare (lawfare) to control overseas Chinese. Direct efforts are already being made, with support from the United Front Work Department, to intimidate, harass and ultimately force foreign Chinese dissidents to return to mainland China.

The CCP should not be allowed to enforce the National Security Law and the Civil Code against overseas Chinese. Allowing Beijing to persecute overseas Chinese gives the CCP an unnecessary psychological victory that paves the way for much worse. If the overseas jurisdiction of either law is ever accepted, it will eventually lead to the end of other nations’ national sovereignty.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Stu Cvrk


Stu Cvrk retired as a Captain, having served 30 years in the US Navy in various active and reserve capacities and having significant operational experience in the Middle East and Western Pacific. By training and experience as an oceanographer and systems analyst, Cvrk is a graduate of the US Naval Academy, where he received a classical liberal education that serves as an essential basis for his political commentary.