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China overtakes US in global diplomatic heft in terms of missions

Highlights
  • According to the report from the Lowy Institute, China now has 276 diplomatic posts globally, three more than the US
  • India is ranked 12th in terms of such diplomatic heft, with 123 embassies and high commissions, and 54 consulates, across the world

China has overtaken the United States as the country with the most diplomatic posts across the world, even as India, the world’s second-most populous country, languishes at 12th place in the diplomatic sweepstakes, according to new data from an Australian think tank.

According to the report from the Lowy Institute, China now has 276 diplomatic posts globally, three more than the US. While China has just one additional embassy/high commission than the US (169-168), Beijing has 96 consulates around the world to Washington’s 88.

India is ranked 12th in terms of such diplomatic heft, with 123 embassies and high commissions, and 54 consulates, across the world. France, Japan, and Russia are ranked at 3rd,4th, and 5th, after China and the United States.


China’s eclipse of the United States is seen as a pivotal moment in global affairs, an indication of Beijing’s growing international ambitions even as Washington under President Trump is scaling back its engagement with the world. Trump has frequently complained about the United States being ripped off by the rest of the world while paring down on government expenses, including foreign aid, even as China has ramped up its global engagement.

Overall, Lowy Institute’s Global Diplomacy Index for 2019 weighed 61 countries of the world with 7316 outposts in 724 cities across the globe, including 4846 embassies and high commissions.

Countries that ranked above India, which has also been criticized at home for not putting money behind the influence it ought to have, includes Turkey (6th place), Germany (7th), Brazil (8th), Spain (9th), Italy (10th) UK (11th). India has one of the smallest foreign service cadres among major nations.

Rwanda, Somalia, Sierre Leone in Africa and Uruguay in South America are among the countries where China has an embassy and India does not.

Pakistan, which benchmarks itself against India, ranks 28th in the list with 85 embassies and 30 consulates across the world.

Contrary to the theatrics from Pakistan that India has 17 or 27 or 56 consulates in Afghanistan, the list shows both New Delhi and Islamabad having an embassy in Kabul) and four consulates each in Afghanistan (in Herat, Jalalabad, Mazar e Sharif, and Kandahar).

In the United States, India has five consulates in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, and Atlanta (besides the embassy in Washington), while China has the same number of consulates, but one of them is Los Angeles instead of Atlanta.

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