A Declining “Special Relationship”?

The United States and the United Kingdom have long maintained close ties. Since World War II, the two countries have maintained a “Special Relationship” characterized by deeply rooted connections across politics, trade, arts and sciences, government and military operations.  But a decision by the British government to join the Chinese-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) appears to be straining that relationship.

The AIIB is envisioned by China as an alternative to the other multilateral development institutions, which China asserts are dominated by Western interests. And while China has actively recruited additional countries to join the AIIB, American pressure has led countries like Japan, Australia and South Korea to resist joining.

The United State criticized Britain’s decision, which the British government described as being “in-line” with British national interests. But the United States said the British move was made “without any consultation” with the United States, and decried Britain’s “constant accommodation” of Chinese interests.

What do you think? Does Britain’s latest move signal the declining importance of the special relationship? What strategy should middle powers like the United Kingdom employ in addressing growing tensions between the United States and China?

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