Relaciones Internacionales – Comunicación Internacional


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Lowy Institute

China and the United States lead the world, by some margin, in the size of their diplomatic networks. Beijing tops the Index with 274 posts in its global network, followed closely by Washington with 271.

China’s rise to the top spot was rapid. In 2011, Beijing lagged behind Washington by 23 diplomatic posts. By 2019, China had surpassed the United States in having the world’s largest diplomatic network. In 2021, China pulled further ahead, leading the United States by eight posts, but by 2023, the gap narrowed again to China ahead by just three posts.

Since China assumed the lead, both countries have largely plateaued, with China down two posts overall compared to 2019 (276), and the United States fluctuating slightly to return to 2016 levels (271). This is, perhaps, to be expected. Once diplomatic networks have reached a critical mass, options for new openings reduce to second and third-tier cities, or to countries that are seen as more peripheral and often with riskier operating environments.

In that respect, it is revealing to examine the relative regional emphases of Chinese and American diplomacy to date. China has a larger diplomatic footprint than the United States in Africa (60:56), East Asia* (44:27), the Pacific Islands countries** (9:8), and Central Asia (7:6) after the United States withdrew from Afghanistan.

The United States still leads China diplomatically in Europe (78:73), North and Central America*** (40:24), and South Asia (12:10). Both countries have an equal number of posts in the Middle East (17) and South America (15).





China’s Reach Is Far And Wide, Tops US On Global Diplomacy Index (Eurasia Review)


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