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China makes no claim to sovereign rights over Tibet as a result of its military subjugation and occupation of Tibet following the country's invasion in 1949-1950.

Instead, it bases its claim to Tibet solely on its theory that Tibet has been an integral part of China for many centuries.

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In 1950, the newly established Communist regime in China invaded Tibet, which was rich in natural resources and had a strategically important border with India. The Chinese government justifies its occupation by claiming that Tibet has been part of China for around 800 years. Tibet is located to the south-west of China, also bordering India, Nepal, Burma and Bhutan.

Tibet’s historical territory would make it the world’s 10th largest nation.

The MWA proposes that Tibet remains a part of the People's Republic of China but with far greater control over its own affairs.

Within the exile Tibetan community there is vigorous debate between supporters of Rangzen and those of the Middle Way Approach.

Michael van Walt is an international legal scholar and a visiting professor at the Institute of Advanced Study.

In the article below, he explains Tibet's legal status.Because China denies Tibetans inside Tibet the right to speak freely, it isn't possible to say exactly what their goals are - but their opposition to China's current rule is clear.Protesters in Tibet repeatedly call for the protection of Tibetan identity, for freedom, for human rights and for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. In exile, the 14th Dalai Lama has established a democratic government (known as the Central Tibetan Administration) which currently advocates for the “Middle Way Approach" (MWA), which he first proposed in the 1980s.If, on the other hand, Tibet is an integral part of China, then these questions fall, as China claims, within its own domestic jurisdiction.The issue of human rights, including the right of self-determination and the right of the Tibetan people to maintain their own identity and autonomy are, of course, legitimate objects of international concern regardless of Tibet's legal status.Free Tibet has no position on the future political status of Tibet.

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