The People's Republic of China (PRC) has made extraordinary diplomatic efforts to assure regional powers and the broader international community that its rise is peaceful, yet it has demonstrated a pattern of excessive claims, aggressive military action, and coercive diplomatic posturing over disputed territories. This paper will examine how the PRC has adopted the concept of legal warfare to shape international opinion and revise interpretation of international law. This paper argues that the PRC attempts to misapply the rule of law to exercise greater authority over military activities, and control access to its littoral waters. Beijing has enacted domestic legislation that is inconsistent with international maritime law, and dismissed decades of State practice to pursue its regional aims. The PRC's strategy of sea denial runs counter to the United States' doctrinal commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight rights, and regional security and stability. This paper argues the dangers of allowing the PRC to revise the long established norms of international maritime law. It concludes with measures the United States may take, in cooperation with regional partners, to ensure all nations preserve their lawful rights in the global maritime commons.