Understanding China's Proposal for an ASEAN-China Community of Common Destiny and ASEAN's Ambivalent Response
- Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 41, Number 2, August 2019
- pp. 223-254
- Additional Information
This article examines the rationales and manifestations of China's vision for an ASEAN-China Community of Common Destiny (CCD). It argues that the ASEAN-China CCD proposal signals the crystallization of a deliberative and invested Chinese strategy for the future of ASEAN-China relations. This strategy aims to reinforce the ongoing power shift in Southeast Asia and engineer a smooth transition to a China-centred regional order against the backdrop of a perceived decline in US influence in the region. In this process, some predilections towards the pre-modern Sino-centric hierarchical regional system have resurfaced as China seeks to renegotiate the normative content of the regional order, and condition ASEAN member states into "good behaviours" accordingly. The article also examines the limits of the CCD concept in ASEAN-China relations as manifested by ASEAN's ambivalent and selective responses. The ASEAN-China CCD vision injects a sense of determinism about the inevitability of the intertwined destiny between China and ASEAN member states, using geography, history and Chinese economic power as its basis. However, these push factors could also be burdens in an asymmetrical relationship which structurally induces ASEAN member states' constant fear of over-dependency and loss of autonomy. The article therefore argues that the ASEAN-China CCD will not be a linear trajectory as ASEAN and most of its member states, while continuing to deepen cooperation and engagement with China, will persistently pursue open regionalism and perpetuate multi-polarity in Southeast Asia.