Key Indo-Pacific countries such as India, Pakistan and China have cut diplomatic posts in Britain by as much as 50% in recent years, according to new government figures.
Staff at embassies and consulates in Pakistan, China and India have all declined over the past seven years, despite being identified as key locations for deepening ties over the next decade, The Guardian reported.
The number of Foreign Office staff in Pakistani embassies and consulates ranges from 110 to 119, reports said.
This drops to 50-59, which equates to about a 50% cut.
Over the same period, the number of Foreign Office staff in the UK has fallen from 70-79 to 40-49 over the past seven years.
The data shared by the Guardian comes from Foreign Minister David Rutley in response to a written parliamentary question from Labor frontbencher Catherine West.
The data also showed ministers made fewer trips to those countries.
In 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of International Development conducted 37 ministerial visits to the Indo-Pacific region, with some countries visiting more than once a year.
However, by 2022, less than a third of those, 12 ministerial missions, will be undertaken, The Guardian reported.
A Foreign Office spokesman told the Guardian the figures did not “accurately describe” the UK’s presence in the Indo-Pacific.
The Guardian has been told that the reduction in UK staff numbers in China and India is partly due to the pandemic and how the UK spends its overseas development budget.
Citing evidence of the UK’s growing influence in the region, the spokesman told the Guardian that trade with the Indo-Pacific would grow by 16.4% year-on-year from autumn 2021 to 2022.
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