Global Diplomacy Index 2019

The 2019 Global Diplomacy Index was released by Sydney-based Lowy Institute. The index gives the latest statistics and marking about how the world’s diplomatic networks are expanding and, in certain cases, shrinking. The index ranked 61 countries across the world.

Key Highlights of Index

China now has more diplomatic posts across the world than United States in 2019. China has overtaken United States with 276 embassies and consulates worldwide, which is 3 more than US (both countries have an equal number of embassies but China has 3 more consulates). This signifies a marker of its growing international clout and ambition.

Even though China’s diplomatic expansion has been rapid and overtook US. In 2016, China was in 3rd place behind US and France, and by 2017 it had moved to second place ahead of France.

US still remains (by a wide margin) the most popular place for countries to maintain embassies and consulates. US is home to about 342 posts belonging to 61 countries included in Index but China, with 256, is a distant second.

After China and US next three spots are occupied by France, Japan, and Russia respectively.

India was ranked 12th among the 61 countries. As of 2019, India has 123 embassies and high commissions and 54 consulates globally. However, the study shows that India too has expanded its diplomatic footprint: In 2017, it had 120 embassies and 52 consulates.

Analysis of China’s Rise

China’s expansion in worldwide diplomatic presence has come partly at the expense of Taiwan, which is a self-governing democracy, however as per China it is a breakaway province. China’s gain has mostly been a direct result of Taiwan’s shrinking diplomatic presence as former intensified its ‘One China’ campaign. Taiwan saw the biggest drop in diplomatic posts, down from 22 embassies in 2016 to 15 in 2019. Moreover, China opened new embassies in The Gambia, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe which were all former diplomatic friends of Taipei.

China’s diplomatic push has been aided by its economic heft as under Chinese President Xi Jinping. Beijing has pumped in billions of dollars into Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the intercontinental connectivity project aimed primarily at building trading corridors connecting China.

Significance: Establishing a robust diplomatic infrastructure is 1st practical step towards bolstering a country’s diplomatic influence. Similarly, China has also invested in its diplomatic infrastructure, which serves as a telling metric of its international ambitions.

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