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China overtakes US in diplomatic postings around the world: think tank

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  • As of 2019, China has a total of 276 diplomatic postings around the world, while the US has 273, according to a new report by the Lowy Institute think tank.
  • This makes China the largest geopolitical power in the world, overtaking the US.
  • It shows the rapid rise of China over the past decade.
  • US foreign policy influence around the world has weakened under President Donald Trump, who has slashed funding for the State Department and struggled to fill key diplomatic roles.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

China has overtaken the US as the biggest diplomatic power in the world, a new report from the Lowy Institute think tank said.

As of 2019, China has a total of 276 diplomatic posts around the world, compared to the US’ 273. These posts include embassies, high commissions, consulates and consulates-general, permanent missions, and other representations in countries where there is no diplomatic relationship.

The Lowy Institute’s ranking is based on the number of diplomatic networks of 61 countries belonging to the G20, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and in Asia. It also “indicates strengths and weaknesses in geographic coverage and geopolitical reach.”

china diplomatic posts

Map showing where China has diplomatic posts around the world as of 2019.

Lowy Institute


The 2019 ranking shows the rapid rise of China over the past decade. In 2017 it had 271 diplomatic posts around the world — three fewer than the US — and, in 2016, 263 posts, according to the think tank.

The US had 274 diplomatic postings in 2017, and 271 in 2016.

china us flag embassy

The US flag flies from an embassy car outside China’s Ministry of Defense in June 2009.
Greg Baker – Pool/Getty Images


US foreign policy influence globally has weakened in recent years under President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump has slashed funding for the State Department and struggled to fill key diplomatic roles.

Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, told House impeachment investigators earlier this month that the State Department was facing a “crisis.”

The US risks being overtaken by China in terms of military and economic power as well. The Center of New American Security warned in June that China is developing advanced weapons at a rapid and secretive pace, and figuring out ways to disrupt US battlefield systems.

China could also overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy as soon as next year, Standard Chartered noted in January. The American economy could also become smaller than India’s by 2030, the bank said.

trump xi shake hands

U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping make joint statements at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017.
Reuters/Jonathan Ernst


These 10 countries have the most diplomatic posts around the world, according to the Lowy Institute:

  1. China — 276 posts
  2. United States — 273
  3. France — 267
  4. Japan — 247
  5. Russia — 242
  6. Turkey — 234
  7. Germany — 224
  8. Brazil — 222
  9. Spain — 215
  10. Italy — 209
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