Research claims that China surpassed the United States and has the world’s largest diplomatic network, and Japan has quietly risen on the highly competitive global diplomatic stage, and now Beijing is the number one.
According to a new study released this week, China has surpassed the United States and has the world’s largest diplomatic network. At the same time, in the face of Beijing’s rise, Japan has quietly strengthened its global diplomatic presence.
The 2019 Global Diplomatic Index released by the Lowy International Policy Research Institute of Australia has assessed the scale and coverage of 61 (national) diplomatic networks around the world according to embassies, consulates, permanent missions and other foreign agencies. The index tracks all G20 countries, all OECD countries and most Asian countries.
The study found that China has surpassed the United States. China has a total of 276 foreign agencies, three more than the United States. This shows Beijing’s growing diplomatic strength and status on the world stage.
The study also claims that Japan’s diplomatic activity has grown quietly. As of this year, Japan has a total of 247 foreign agencies, rising to fourth place, surpassing Russia for the first time.
In terms of the number of embassies, Beijing and Washington are comparable, but China has no one in terms of the number of consulates. There are 96 in the world and 88 in the United States. According to the study, this “shows that China’s diplomatic expansion is closely related to its economic interests.”
The project’s lead researcher, Bonny Bray, acknowledges that Beijing has accumulated a huge global presence, but this “is only a symbolic victory for China.”
Bray said: “Of course diplomatic influence is not only determined by the number of foreign agencies in a country. But diplomatic infrastructure is an indicator of a country’s ambitions and its willingness to invest resources in that ambition.”
Bray pointed out that the United States remains the most important location for diplomats sent by various countries, and this position is obviously not challenged. In the United States, there are approximately 342 embassies and consulates belonging to 61 countries in the index, far more than China (256) in second place.
But Bray warned that the United States should not be taken lightly. After Trump became president, the media reported extensively on budget cuts and the “hollow-out” of the State Department, and the United States’ foreign reserves were hit. The White House is deeply skeptical of international agreements and commitments, and has withdrawn from several international agreements, which has upset its allies and the international community.