Diplomacy is a very broad term; we simply cannot limit it by defining it in one line. Talking about diplomacy, I would say it is the implementation of foreign policy in the management of international affairs. There can be many points of view about diplomacy as it involves meditation and negotiation between representatives of different countries.
It is about developing friendly and understanding relations with different countries.
Knowing what effects the country’s diplomacy is also important. Firstly, the size of any country’s diplomatic network shows the effectiveness of its diplomacy. Resources can also be an issue as staff size and funding really matters. Because of the financial crises, even some ministries of foreign affairs were forced to implement changes to their workforce and their diplomatic networks.
But obviously, there are solutions to this problem like ministries of foreign affairs can save by lessening their home-based staff, which is posted abroad as these postings are pretty costly if we compare it to basing staff at ministry headquarters in the capital. Also, savings can be achieved if the use of staff, which is located in the country of the post, is increased and replacing it with staff, which is home-based but working at diplomatic posts abroad.
Now let’s see which country is leading
The most important thing to remember is global stats; according to 2019, Lowy global diplomatic index maps 61 countries or diplomatic networks around the world; it includes 724 cities and a total of 7317 posts. 4846 embassies/ high commissions, 1887 consulates/ consulates – general, 373 permanent missions, 211 other representations.
Tracking all G20 and OECD countries and Asian nations show that China is ahead or has surpassed the United States.
Bonnie Bley, A Lowy Institute research fellow, said that no doubt Beijing had worked to put a significant diplomatic infrastructure, but it more reflected china’s ambition than its influence
For a very long time, Washington had the largest diplomatic network in the world, but now things have changed, and China has replaced Washington, reaching 276 diplomatic posts, including consulates, embassies and permanent missions to international organizations. On the other hand, Washington has reached 273 diplomatic posts.
China’s tremendous rise has gained a lot of attention to global politics. Now surpassing the united states in terms of its size in the diplomatic network is obviously remarkable. Not only this, the size of china’s economy, the scale, and reach of investment, the budget, commercial relationships are noticeable. Also, military forces are working in the right direction.
China still continued to expand its diplomatic footprint. In the last two years, Beijing has opened five new embassies in the Dominican Republic, in Burkina Faso, Gambia, El Salvador, and São Tomé and Príncipe while trump’s administration has not yet announced any posts.
In trump’s term, staff vacancies were concerning even Australia didn’t have US ambassador for two years, but obviously, it would not be damaged in a single presidential term as diplomatic influence took decades to develop and strengthen.
No doubt, Beijing and Washington are very close to each other in terms of the number of embassies they have, but there is no comparison when China’s number of consulates is considered as it has 96 as compared to the United state’s 86. Among 96 consulates 41 are in Asia while 28 are located in
Europe. It is known to all that consulates reflect economic power, and embassies reflect political power. So it means China is working on its economic diplomacy, which is one of the reasons Beijing their lead.
If we talk about the United States’ diplomacy, so I would say it isn’t totally lagging behind. Diplomatic influence also comes when a place becomes a good and important host to foreign missions. In this case, the united states have gained immense importance for countries to maintain consulates and embassies. Not surprisingly, it is maintaining 342 consulates and embassies belonging to 61 countries. China, on the other hand, is home to 256 embassies and consulates. However, other countries are also working really hard to achieve a number close to the above-mentioned numbers.
Australia ranks 27th in the world. It is second-last in the G20. Australia had reached 118 posts in 2019 from 91 posts a decade ago. Though Australia is working in the right direction, according to the index report Australia still continues to run a diplomatic deficit even though its economic size and population are good enough. Now Australia has opened two posts, one in Tuvalu and other Morocco. It is also planning to open five more across the Pacific by 2021
For diplomatic presence, France ranks third. Japan in fourth as it has surpassed Russia. Ireland improved its network by eight posts, rising three places in the index. The Netherlands, too, attained seven new posts in two years, and few more openings are expected by 2021. Even Tokyo is investing in its diplomatic footprint for a long time now. turkey ranks sixth for its diplomatic network as it has added six posts since 2017
Unfortunately. United kingdom closed 11 consulates and diplomatic, dropped from ninth place three years ago to eleventh this year.
Countries like china, turkey, japan, and Ireland are showing where do they want to stand in the future. China is, indeed, a very good example for those countries who would like to stand out in a very good way.
Now, of course, It will have an effect on things in general like The competition has become tough. Once the united states were enjoying the global diplomatic primacy, and at that time, China was behind it, but now the competition has increased, and China has taken a noticeable position. No doubt, other countries have also geared up for the competition and are doing their best. A diplomatic network shows any country’s ambition.
Bley said, “looking at where countries are investing resources and building diplomatic infrastructure can tell us a lot about national priorities.”