This article identifies and clarifies some of the miscommunication between Chinese and English in the discussion of rule of law or rule by law. “Rule by law” is not a concept readily understandable by a Chinese audience because there is no acceptable translation or equivalent in Chinese. At the same time, the historical and contextual significance of the different denotations of “rule of law” in Chinese is often overlooked in an English-speaking environment. Meanwhile, the abstraction in critical examination of Chinese law often masks significant changes taking place in China’s construction of a “socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics”, such as the emergence of a system of case law. The different components and aspects of such a system, ranging from the guidance cases system published by the Supreme People’s Court, to the largest database of judicial decisions in the world, and the newly established China International Commercial Court under the Belt and Road Initiative could fundamentally alter and structure, nature and principles of Chinese law as we know it.