On March 12th, Britain announced to join China’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founding shareholder, making it the first big Western economy to apply for membership of AIIB. This movement has raised concerns to the US, its closest and most important ally.
AIIB is one of a number of new institutions launched by China to fund Asian energy, transport and infrastructure projects. It was created in October 2014 by 21 countries. America has reacted negatively to the AIIB, worrying about the institution abiding by international standards—of transparency, creditworthiness, environmental sustainability, and so on. Other staunch American allies—Australia, Japan and South Korea—have so far stayed out, but UK decided to side with the superpower’s emerging rival. In fact, a spokesperson for Prime Minister David Cameron said, “There will be times when we take a different approach.”
Since David Cameron, accompanied by the biggest British trade mission ever, visited China in December 2013, the British government seems to have been preoccupied by the commercial potential of the Chinese market to the exclusion of all else. Even its Joint Declaration with China assuring Hong Kong of 50 years of internal autonomy after its reversion to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 has seemed less important.