America has long been seen as a bastion of freedom. Speech, association, political viewpoints, and many other forms of self-expression have long been protected under the First Amendment. One of the most sacred aspects of our First Amendment freedoms is the ability to speak out against the American government, and foreign governments without fear of reprisals. Today, in 2023 this most sacred freedom is under assault by Chinese communist-linked elements, working through the gloved hand of the American legal system.
On Jan. 30 this year, an American law firm, representing the “Pacific Alliance Asia Opportunity Fund”, a group with extensive links to CCP-controlled China, sent a demand letter to the Washington Times. This demand letter declared that the Times had hosted opinion pieces decrying the actions of CCP-linked entities, and in doing so was making defamatory statements. This clear attempt to silence free-press and open expression by Chinese dissidents is just the tip of the iceberg. The CCP has used jack-booted tactics like these for years back home. Brutalistic assaults on free speech and commentary are standard occurrences in Communist China. Now, this socialist state is turning its gaze to foreign targets, and attempting to leverage America’s legal system as the tool through which to attack.
One of the primary ways that the CCP is weaponizing the American legal system is through the strategic use of lawsuits, and demand letters to national media organizations, particularly those brought against individuals and organizations that are critical of the Chinese government. These lawsuits are often brought in American courts and are designed to intimidate, silence, and financially ruin those who dare to speak out against the CCP. This weaponization of the American legal system has serious implications for the future of free speech and the democratic values that America holds dear. The CCP’s use of lawsuits and demand letters as a tool to silence dissent sets a dangerous precedent that threatens to undermine the very foundations of the American legal system. Moreover, the CCP’s use of American courts to pursue its agenda is particularly troubling because it is often done with the support and collaboration of American lawyers, who are willing to abuse their positions of power and exploit the American legal system for their own financial gain. CCP-linked law firms within the United States seem to have chosen the wide path of easy profit over the narrow trail of patriotic duty. By turning American legal, and media organizations against each other, the CCP wins yet another battle in their multifaceted cold war against capitalism and freedom.
This tactic of using the legal system to silence dissent is nothing new for the CCP, and it’s been used effectively in China to restrict free speech and prevent the spread of information that is critical of the government. However, the use of this strategy against conservative media organizations based in other countries marks a significant escalation in the CCP’s efforts to control the global narrative. This is a clear attempt to undermine the credibility of American media organizations and restrict the free flow of information about the CCP and its actions. It’s also a warning to others who may be considering reporting on the Chinese government and its actions that they too could face legal action if they do so. The CCP seems to believe that such attacks will have a chilling effect on American media. So far, they have been correct.
Freedom of expression is dead in America if CCP-linked actors can work hand in hand with American lawyers to silence dissident opinions. On this issue, the Washington Times has capitulated to communism, but other freedom-loving American media outlets must stand firm against a rising tide of socialist-style censorship emanating from Asia. Weaponized lawfare tactics, by the enemies of freedom, are a terrifying thing to face. However, if our first principles truly demand that we allow disagreement and dissident opinions, then American media must firmly resist CCP-sponsored lawfare at every turn.
American media organizations can start by calling out these attacks for what they are, state sponsored censorship of dissident commentary. News organizations within the United States are in a unique position to strike back against these attacks. All that remains to be seen is if they have the strength to do so.