The Case for a Legally Independent State

by Michael C. van Walt, Free Tibet

Tibetans say their country is an independent nation: the Chinese government says it is part of China. Who is right? Michael C. van Walt is an international legal scholar and a board member of the International Campaign for Tibet. In this analysis, he finds that Tibet’s legal status remains that of an independent state under illegal occupation.

China’s Claims
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) claims that Tibet is an integral part of China. The Tibetan government-in-exile maintains that Tibet is an independent state under unlawful occupation.

If Tibet is under unlawful Chinese occupation, Beijing’s large-scale transfer of Chinese settlers into Tibet is a serious violation of the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which prohibits the transfer of civilian population into occupied territory.

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