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Yuan Yi Zhu receives top award from the Asian Society of International Law

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    Yuan Zhu

DPIR student Yuan Yi Zhu has been awarded the Junior Scholar Award by the Asian Society of International Law for his article on the legal status of Tibet and Mongolia.

The article, ‘Suzerainty, Semi-Sovereignty, and International Legal Hierarchies on China’s Borderlands explores the ways in which international law was used by Western colonial powers and by Republican China to define the legal status of Tibet and Mongolia.

In it, Yuan examines the history of the legal notion of "suzerainty" — often been used to describe the historical legal status of Tibet and Mongolia — and show that it was in fact a purposefully meaningless concept which allowed imperial powers to advance their strategic interests in these regions. 

Yuan is a final-year DPhil candidate in International Relations at Nuffield College and works on historical international relations, international hierarchies, and international law. He is also a stipendiary lecturer in Politics at Pembroke College.

His article was awarded joint first prize, with Yuan receiving a book voucher from Cambridge University Press and a one-year free membership of the Asian Society of International Law for his efforts.

Yuan said: “I am honoured and delighted to receive this award, which reaffirms the importance of historical scholarship within both international relations and international law.

“The precise legal status of these territories has long been a subject of political controversy, and I hope that this article throws some light on the origins of the dispute.”

Every two years, the Asian Society of International Law presents a `Junior Scholar Award' for an outstanding article published by a scholar under 40 years of age in the Asian Journal of International Law.

Yuan’s article previously won the Barbara W. Tuchman Prize for Best Paper in Historical International Relations by a Graduate Student of the International Studies Association in 2020.

Further reading:

Mr Yuan Yi Zhu is a DPhil student at DPIR