Taming the Red Dragon? The United Kingdom and the Asinan infrastructure investment bank

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On 12th of March 2015 the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced that the UK wished to become a prospective member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The UK was the first Western state announcing their wish join to the AIIB. This was remarkable, since the UK directly went against the heavy US lobby to dismiss the AIIB and thus against one of its main allies. This thesis will examine this puzzle by putting the explanatory power of two theories to test: (neo)mercantilism enriched with liberal institutionalist insights versus social constructivism. By fusing liberal institutionalist insights into (neo)mercantilism, the thesis has sought to enhance the ability of neomercantilism to explain international cooperation. A case study research design complemented with insights from process tracing and data triangulation has been employed to analyse the AIIB-membership of the UK. This thesis concludes that the UK joined the AIIB because of the economic benefits. Especially the financial benefits for the financial sector were a large factor in the British decision to join the AIIB. Therefore, this thesis will conclude that (neo)mercantilism is the most suitable explanation.
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