Vietnam and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC): Prospects, Challenges and Opportunities
Although there is a large literature on ASEAN regionalism, comparatively little attention has been devoted to Southeast Asia’s efforts to build a shared social and cultural community. This thesis examines how the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) is understood in ASEAN and explores challenges that stand in the way of the Community being realized by its 2015 deadline. The study reviews the origins and response to the ASCC at both the regional level, and at the national level through a case-study of Vietnam’s participation. It argues that although the ASCC is an important component of the ASEAN Community building process and member states have proclaimed their determination to realize the ASCC by 2015, the reality in ASEAN with its “unity in diversity” and “ASEAN Way” norms, means there are many obstacles in the way. Divergent national interests and priorities have led to different priorities in designing and implementing the ASCC Blueprint in the period 2009-2015. The thesis concludes by speculating about the likely scenario for ASCC implementation. It argues that in 2015, the most likely scenario for the ASCC is one in which a nascent ASCC will be formed but with only some of its components in place. ASEAN needs a longer journey to realize its aspiration of a shared socio-culture community.