China's Five Finger Policy

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 31, 2022, 9:58

The "Five Fingers of Tibet" policy is largely attributed to Mao Zedong's speech on 15th November 1939. As per the construct, Xizang(Tibet) is the right palm of China and Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and Northeast Frontiers of Arunachal Pradesh as the five fingers of this palm. China, thus, took upon itself the responsibility to liberate these regions to realize the dream of Mao. So, it can be said that the origin of China's Five Finger Policy can be traced back to Mao's Speech, although it was never officially brought up in Chinese public statements.

China's Five Finger Policy Unfolding China's Intentions

The Chinese Officers in Tibet had claimed to liberate Ladakh, Sikkim, Bhutan, and NEFA in 1954, which according to them, was wrongfully held by Indian imperialists. Also, the Chinese Government had published the school book named "A Brief History of Modern China" that included a map of the "five fingers" territories as "portions of China that must be reclaimed." These reflected the true intentions and ambitions of the Chinese Government. Later, Mao's China captured annexed Xinjiang and Tibet, thereby making China big enough to be called the fourth largest country in the world. China's annexation of the resource-rich Tibet is the most significant geopolitical development in the Post-World War II era, thereby giving China common borders with India, Bhutan, Nepal, and the northernmost part of Myanmar. The Sino-India War in 1962 further expanded China's gain in the Ladakh territory after it had already grabbed the Aksai Chin region.

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Tibet's Strategic Importance for China's Five Finger Policy

  • For China, Tibet is the strategic pass that will help it strengthen its geopolitical intentions and ambitions in South Asia. Mao described Tibet as the palm of China to expand its power and influence in the rest of South Asia.
  • Tibet is the starting point of Asia's ten primary river systems. This will facilitate China's rise as Hydro-hegemon by building mega-dams along the Tibetan Plateau Border. This will allow it to have leverage over the downstream countries.
  • Its expansionist policies and its intentions to encircle India from different borders

Recent Intensification of Tension Between India and China

President Xi Jinping has been pictured as the successor of Josef Stalin to US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien. While others do not hesitate to compare Xi to Adolf Hitler, thereby coining the name "Xitler." In early 2020, there was a strategic increase in the presence of Chinese troops along the LAC border that had been assessed as Xi's refuelled determination of fulfilling Mao's dream of liberating the "five fingers."

There has been a recent intensification of tension between India and China. While the world was preparing to fight the most difficult war against the invisible enemy, Coronavirus, the media became active with news of a fatal standoff between the two Asian Giants along the Himalayan region. There was a clash between the soldiers of both the countries in the Galwan Valley that is described as the most fatal since 1975. Both sides have engaged in multiple rounds of military talks to resolve the long-standing border dispute. Still, no solutions have been reached, with both sides hardening their claims and positions over the issue. Also, since June 2020, both sides have agreed for dialogues and disengagement in areas of tension like Gorga and Pangong Lake. Subsequent actions like China's new law on land borders are enough to keep the fear of further escalation from dyeing.

Thus, China's Five Finger Policy has a history attributed to it that still continues to impact border relations with India.

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FAQs on China's Five Finger Policy

Q.1 The concept of China's Five Finger Policy is attributed to whom?

China's Five Finger Policy is attributed to the speech of Mao Zedong.

Q.2. When were the last talks held between China and India to settle a dispute that dates back to China's Five Finger Policy?

The 15th round of India-China LAC talks was held at the Chusul-Moldo border in March 2022, with no breakthrough being reached. However, both sides have agreed to continue the dialogue under the current scenario, pledging to maintain stability and security in the eastern Ladakh border region.

Q.3. Which are the Five Fingers of Tibet which led to China's Five Finger Policy?

Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Ladakh, and NEFA are the Five Fingers of Tibet which led to China's Five Finger Policy

Q.4. In the context of China's Five Finger Policy, what is LAC and What is the length of LAC?

LAC stands for Line of Actual Control which demarcated the territories controlled by India from the territories controlled by China in the Sino-India border dispute. It is important in the context of the Five Finger Policy of China. According to India, the LAC is 3488 km long, while China claims that it is only around 2000 km.