The intriguing relationship between jus ad bellum and jus in bello has provoked perennial academic debates. This article examines this issue from Chinese perspectives and offers a cultural critique of the well-entrenched norm of the ad bellum/in bello separation in international humanitarian law. Based on its distinctive traditional perception of the world order and the meaning of war, China embraces a holistic understanding of the ad bellum/in bello relationship. This relationship is construed as essentially harmonized. The cardinal moral principle underpinning it is that a just war should be conducted in a just way. The ad bellum/in bello separation in international humanitarian law has a Western origin, and the rationale behind it intimates Western sensitivity to the European just war tradition in which jus in bello was parasitic on jus ad bellum. It is assumed that jus ad bellum and jus in bello are irreconcilably in conflict once they come into contact with one another. This assumption is followed by a widely-held belief that any attempt to reconnect the two concepts would bring nothing but the subordination of jus in bello to jus ad bellum as experienced in European just war and, consequently, the collapse of the former. Chinese perspectives nevertheless evidence that this conventional line of thinking, hampering scholars from thinking beyond the sealed ad bellum/in bello separation, is not sound. A proposal for a more constructive solution should be taken into consideration.
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