Over the past few years, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has played increasingly active roles and received higher recognition for its economic, political-security, and socio-cultural significance at both regional and global landscapes. However, beyond the successful stories told through the quantifiable growth indicators and numbers of official agreements signed, at a personal level, I found that there is also a growing sense of individual identity attached to this regional grouping – ASEAN Community. I could say that it was this shared identity coupling with my academic interests in international relations in East Asia that drove me this far to come to Beijing, and in particular, to learn more about diplomatic endeavors in ASEAN-China relations.
Thanks to the warm welcome and kind guidance of all officers, staff members, and trainee friends at ASEAN-China Centre, I obtained a fruitful short-term internship experience at this energizing intergovernmental organization. Taking part in Education, Culture and Tourism Division, I had an opportunity to learn about cultural and youth exchange activities initiated and co-hosted by ACC. Most importantly, I felt privileged to be able to assist administrative and communicative tasks that contribute to a closer cooperation between all ten ASEAN Member States (AMS) and Chinese stakeholders. For example, trainees had a chance to assist organizing China-ASEAN Youth Football Friendly Matches, where we, among various tasks, had an opportunity to visit AMS Embassies to deliver key documents. Furthermore, trainees had a chance to visit the Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage Preservation in preparation for ASEAN-China Fair. There we observed and directly discussed with professional craftsmen about their tradition of craftsmanship, means to preservation and international exchanges, as well as their channels for digital marketization. I believe that collaborating with these national artists for the forthcoming Fair does not only well portray 2019 ASEAN Cultural Year theme, but also well reflect the unique culture of China, yet readily in cordial ties with other ASEAN countries.
As we entered the third millennium, physical and digital connectivity has intensified more than ever at both degree and scale. The advance of technological capacities, particularly in telecommunication, has shifted international relations paradigm from a mere emphasis of state government as a primary actor to diverse private agents, including general public and individuals. I witnessed ACC’s continuous efforts to expand people-to-people relations to a wider horizon. Through peoples’ engagement and public diplomacy tools, I am positive and looking forward to seeing genuine exchanges of ideas and values that extends to a deeper understanding and deeper empathy shared between ASEAN and Chinese agents in both working-level personnel and general public. Here, I am thankful to be a part of this organization where my internship efforts were rewarded with professional lessons and long-lasting friendship.
Name: Silsupa Wiwatwicha (孫恩雅)
From: Bangkok Thailand
Affiliation: Master’s student at Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University