Forbes: China Is Afraid Of International Law—And Planning A Counter-Offensive

Here’s what they say in their introduction

As weapons have been drawn in the South China Sea, a battle of legal narratives is brewing—and academics are on the front lines. An article in today’s South China Morning Post reports that Chinese academics are being encouraged to create narratives to support China’s illegal claims of sovereignty and jurisdiction over parts of the South China Sea—claims which blatantly violate international law and violate China’s neighbors’ sovereign rights. The PRC plans to flood regional media with these narratives—which it is well-equipped to do, given its ownership of regional telecommunications infrastructure and social media—especially TikTok. The US must step up its efforts to counter China’s legal warfare before China’s narrative becomes accepted as fact in the region.

According to the article, Wu Shicun, chair of the Huayang Institute for Research on Maritime Cooperation and Ocean Governance, encouraged a seminar of 100 historians and legal scholars to construct narratives and engage in discourse to help China defend its “rights and interests” in the South China Sea. He encouraged debunking the 2016 arbitration ruling that invalidated China’s claim to most of the South China Sea, including hotly contested areas in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone and regions claimed by Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Wu cited “an increasingly arduous battle over public perception and opinion” and cited its neighbors’ “ . . . cooperation with extraterritorial forces in the study of historical and legal issues.” He claimed that the international academic community has developed “some strange theories which deliberately distort the history of the South China Sea and maliciously smear China’s rights and claims . . . .” He then urged the audience to “restore the rightful background on South China Sea issues from historical and legal perspectives.”