The G7 is now essentially the G2 or G3
© Getty Images

Since March 12, one issue has dominated the financial pages in London: The rise of China's Asian Infrastructure investment Bank (AIIB) and the rush of world nations to join in in opposition to America's interests. Learned voices have called it an tectonic shift in world power.

"Some events are epochal," writes Kishore Mahbubani of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. "The decision by Great Britain to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was one such event. It may have heralded the end of the American century and the arrival of the Asian century."

ADVERTISEMENT

"The world has moved on. It's time for America to catch up," writes Sholto Byrnes, senior fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Malaysia.

Luxemburg was in fact the first EU nation to join on March 11, with the arrangement that it would not be announced until later. But the next day, the United Kingdom publicly announced that it would join. The wind then took the sails and in the next two weeks, major European countries including Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland also joined. Australia and South Korea, key to American interests in the Pacific region, are about to join.

Some commentators are now declaring the rise of the "China century" and America's shift to second place with the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. A more accurate historic perspective to Rome might see Britain united with America in an Anglo-American span of influence on a thousand-year arc.

What might therefore be seen here as important is the division among friends the rush to the new China bank brings to the G7. The first thought was that G7 members would wait and all go together to the China bank or not go at all. Then Britain, without consultation with Washington and in opposition to its own Foreign Office, singularly took the initiative.

Three of the G7 — France, Germany and Italy — followed Britain almost instantly. Canada still sits on the fence. So, essentially, the predictable G7 under American dominance overnight became the G4 or G5 under spontaneous new British leadership, with America and Japan outriggers in a secondary G2 or G3 depending on Canada's decision.

"Japan has been paralysed on the AIIB issue because Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's frontal policy against China has made it more dependent on the U.S. vis-a vis China," Jing Huang and Tomoo Kikuchi write for The Straits Times. "The European decision to join the bank is a deafening wake-up call to this government, which has yet to realise the full impact of the rapid shift of the strategic balance in the region and beyond."

European members had no such qualms in abandoning ship.

In a way, it all hangs on Canada: Will she follow Britain and Europe to China or will she follow America? If the first, Canada will form a unifying world link between East and West. If she stays with America we go together, quite possibly in opposition to Europe and Asia, to a new world order.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.