As British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives in Beijing today, where is the U.K.’s relationship with China heading? Despite a complex history, U.K.-China relations have remained a relative bright spot in China’s engagement with the West in recent years. Before Brexit seemed like a genuine possibility, the U.K. government envisaged a “golden era” of engagement with China as a way to stimulate Britain’s economy and diversify international linkages. With the reality of Brexit now looming, many British policy elites see boosting ties with China—on track to become the world’s largest economy—as an urgent task, notwithstanding Theresa May’s reported hesitancy to endorse China’s Belt and Road Initiative. While most media attention has been focused on negotiations with Brussels, the U.K. government has taken steps to revive the golden era agenda.


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