Single title - Foundation Office Cambodia
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ASEAN COMMUNITY BUILDING
While proceeding to the post-2025 vision, ASEAN is embarking on a challenging journey to accomplish the goal of the ASEAN Community 2025. In this regard, upholding solidarity, unity, and mutual assistance, and especially maintaining its centrality as well as position pertinent to its strategic interests are the bloc’s main priorities. The political and security realm requires this regional grouping to reinforce its centrality as a driving force to advance dialogue processes; build trust for regional peace, security, and stability; and offer more proactive and effective responses to tackle the challenges. Economically, it requires ASEAN to be closely dependent on economic linkages to other sub-regional entities. For the socio-cultural domain, it requires ASEAN to attach great importance to enhancing a people-oriented and people-centred approach so that it can have the citizens of ASEAN at the centre of its agenda. Apart from further raising awareness regarding the ASEAN Community building, ASEAN needs to further develop the ethos of compliance focusing on capacity building and harmonising the legal systems of each member state respectively as well as augmenting not only human but also financial resources necessary for carrying out and coordinating agencies and mechanisms.
While the national politics of member states have decelerated the ASEAN community-building progress, more complex and contested regional environments have further put pressure on those efforts. The fate of ASEAN thus relies on how this regional grouping deals with these challenges in order to revitalise its community-building project. Undoubtedly, greater economic integration within ASEAN, together with further integration with the world’s economy, is perceived as the means to realise the full economic potential of ASEAN.
ASEAN and China
ASEAN and China are committed to upholding an open and inclusive regional architecture, an open and free trade system, inclusive multilateralism, and utilising dialogues and consultation to manage the divergences. In this regard, China has actively supported ASEAN’s function by strengthening third-party cooperation in Southeast Asia and working with more partners, specifically those being reluctant to endorse China’s mega-project, the BRI. On the other hand, China and parts of ASEAN remain locked in the South China Sea conflict that will undoubtedly play a role during Cambodia’s upcoming chairmanship. In more years to come, both sides need to further deepen the spirit of cooperation in tackling common problems and maintaining regional peace and prosperity.
ASEAN and Japan
China and Japan have made huge efforts in bolstering their presence and influence in ASEAN, respectively. ASEAN must find a balance between itself and these powers. Furthermore, as the next Chair of ASEAN, Cambodia will have an opportunity to balance the economic relations between the two countries, thereby enabling ASEAN to narrow its economic differences, while promoting regional connectivity and inclusive growth. Therefore, it may be significant for Cambodia to form minilateral or multilateral platforms to engage these regional powers.
ASEAN AND THE US
Cambodia, as the Chair of ASEAN in 2022, will face a myriad of challenges, including the US-China competition, the political turmoil in Myanmar, COVID-19 and post-pandemic economic recovery, and particularly its strained relations with Washington. The difficult relationship between Cambodia and the US could negatively impact the Kingdom’s Chairmanship. The poor relations have been exacerbated by Cambodia’s close ties with China, whom the US, under Joe Biden’s administration, considers its main rival. Therefore, Cambodia’s success in the chairmanship will hinge upon several factors, including the country’s ability to advocate for practical dialogues between and among actors from within and outside the region, its balanced and flexible way in addressing the above-mentioned contentious problems, and its inclination to place the country’s and the bloc’s interests at the core.
ASEAN and the EU
The EU and ASEAN have shared and implemented the related international norms and standards. On the security front, the EU has demonstrated its ability to offer an indispensable contribution to non-traditional challenges, such as violent extremism and climate change prevention. The cooperation between the two parties entails coordinated confidence-building measures, capacity building and preventive diplomacy, and multi-layered cooperation and the rules-based international order. It has been noted that a decision to upgrade their relations to Strategic Partners will need both the EU and ASEAN to display constant commitment and enlarged communication and investments. Looking ahead, besides the commitment, both sides will need to enact coherent measures, trade flows, and cooperation that lead to the promotion of sustainable and green growth as well as the dissemination of rules-based multilateralism with the placement of the upgraded status at both regional multilateral cooperation framework.