- Vietnam's ASEAN Membership Revisited: Golden Opportunity or Golden Cage?
- Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 28, Number 2, August 2006
- pp. 234-258
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Vietnam's membership in ASEAN, which was achieved in 1995, is widely regarded as a powerful symbol and most significant result of Hanoi's new foreign policy as part of the doi moi renovation process. This article elaborates on the question as to whether ASEAN membership has been as beneficial to the conduct of Vietnam's foreign affairs as it is generally assumed. Does ASEAN indeed present a continuous golden opportunity for the management of the country's international relations or would it be more accurate to view the Association as a golden cage, which offers clear opportunities in terms of the management of regional order but also increasingly restricts Vietnam's foreign policy options? The article elaborates on the impact of ASEAN membership on Hanoi's bilateral relations with China, the United States, and its Southeast Asian neighbours, establishes to what extent Vietnam's initiatives towards a peaceful resolution of the South China Sea disputes are in line with ASEAN's, discusses Vietnam's foreign economic policy interests and also tries to shed some light on the actors and structures in the making of the country's foreign affairs.