Britain would raise its diplomatic profile in India and China as part of its drive to strengthen relations with “the world's two emerging superpowers,” its Foreign Secretary William Hague announced on Wednesday.

Outlining plans for what he described as “a substantial reinvigoration” of Britain's global diplomatic network to “make it ready for the 21st century,” Mr. Hague said there would be a “significant” expansion of its missions in these two countries.

“So we will significantly increase our presence in India and China, the world's two emerging superpowers. We will strengthen our frontline staff in China by up to 50 officials and in India by 30, working to transform Britain's relationship in their fastest growing cities and regions,” he told MPs.

A “substantial” expansion of Britain's diplomatic strength was also planned in Brazil, Turkey, Mexico and Indonesia.

More staff would be posted in a number of other Asian, African and Latin American countries including Pakistan, Thailand, Burma, South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan, Mongolia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Nigeria, Angola, Botswana, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Panama and Peru.

Mr. Hague said the move represented a “strategic shift” from the previous Labour government's “policy of closing Embassies and reducing our diplomatic presence in key parts of the world.”

No strategic shrinkage

“We promised in our first week in office in the coalition government that there would be no strategic shrinkage of Britain's diplomatic influence overseas under this government, and that instead we would strengthen Britain's diplomatic network,” he said.

In a statement on the first anniversary of the formation of the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition government, Mr. Hague said it would work to “forge stronger bilateral relations with emerging giants and some old allies that have been neglected for too long.”