Piracy, Protests, and the Problem of China

"A comprehensive strategy for effective solutions to the problem of China would proceed from the recognition that the Chinese government is lawless. This recognition would strengthen the economic case against China and connect it to other concerns. China’s economic cheating, military brinksmanship, and human rights abuses are not three separate problems. They are three facets of the same problem. To understand the Chinese government as lawless is to understand the common core of China’s human-rights abuses (especially religious persecution), espionage adventures (especially cyber theft), and economic cheating (especially its theft of intellectual property). China flouts the rule of law, not occasionally, or incidentally, but characteristically, because the government understands itself to be the source of law and to be unconstrained by it.

The Chinese ruling party’s lawlessness is not for a lack of posited laws. Law does not come only from governments. Contra positivists and legal pragmatists, to adhere to one’s own regulations and to obtain the sanction of courts of last resort does not make a nation’s actions lawful. All of the specifications of practical reason that people make in the exercise of their liberty are part of the law."