Legalism and offensive realism in the Chinese court debate on defending national security 81 BCE

Ping Cheung Lo

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter presents that Legalism was the progenitor of this realist strategic culture and that it was in the Han Dynasty that this strategic culture was practiced on a large scale. A conventional explanation is that Legalism continued to exert covert but great influence in the imperial courts after the Han Dynasty. Such an excessive admiration of the imperialism of Qin, which was the champion of Legalism, shows that they have been converted to Legalism in spite of their supposed Confucian identity. The chapter proposes that Han Fei's vision of interstate relations accords with 'realism' in international relations theory. Warfare is conducted not only passively to stop aggression, but also to advance state interests in becoming a regional hegemon. The most noticeable feature in the pro-war arguments were three major changes regarding the purpose of war: from border defense to territorial expansion; from pre-emptive war to preventive war; from limited war to total war.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChinese Just War Ethics
Subtitle of host publicationOrigin, Development, and Dissent
EditorsPing Cheung Lo, Sumner B. Twiss
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9781317580966, 9781315740706
ISBN (Print)9781138824355, 9781138729216
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2015

Publication series

NameWar, conflict and ethics

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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