Chronologies

Regional Overview

Chronology from Jan 2009 to Mar 2009


: North Korea announces that a South Korean worker has been detained at the Kaesong industrial zone after allegedly criticizing North Korea’s political system.

: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says that the U.S. has no plans for military action to pre-empt the launching of a long-range missile by North Korea and would act only if the missile or its parts appeared to be headed toward U.S. territory.  ROK President Lee says he also opposes any military response to North Korea’s impending rocket launch.

: Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. policy director for North Korea and Sung Kim, the U.S. special envoy to the Six-Party Talks meet South Korea’s chief negotiator in Six-Party Talks, Wi Sung-lak, and Japanese Foreign Ministry Director General Akitaka Saiki in Washington to discuss tensions with North Korea as Pyongyang prepares to launch a rocket.

: Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada issues an order to the Japan Self-Defense Forces to destroy a North Korean rocket or its debris in the event that its launch fails and it falls onto Japanese territory.

: Thai protesters seize and occupy Prime Minister Abhisit’s offices in Bangkok.

: SCO member states hold a conference on Afghanistan in Moscow and issue a joint statement and an action plan to deal with terrorism and drug trafficking in Afghanistan.

: China announces that it has lodged a formal protest with the U.S. in response to the U.S. Congress resolution vowing to defend Taiwan.

: Secretary Clinton warns North Korea that a missile launch will be a “provocative act” that could have consequences.

: The Pentagon releases its annual report on Chinese military power.

: North Korea’s Foreign Ministry warns that the Six-Party Talks will collapse if the UN imposes sanctions against its rocket launch.

: The U.S. Congress passes a resolution vowing “unwavering commitment” to Taiwan’s security and calling the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act a “cornerstone” of U.S. policy.

: North Korea reopens the military hotline and the border with the South, a day after the end of the annual U.S.-ROK Key Resolve/Foal Eagle military exercise.

: North Korea closes the border to traffic to and from South Korea.

: SCO Secretary General Bolat Nurgaliyev says the SCO is open to cooperation with NATO.

: North Korea informs the U.S. that it does not wish to receive additional U.S. food assistance and orders U.S. nongovernmental agencies involved with distributing the food to leave the country by the end of March.

: Two U.S. reporters, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, are detained by North Korean security officials near North Korea’s border with China.

: Japan hosts a meeting for senior defense ministers from Japan and the 10 ASEAN member countries to explore non-military security issues such as natural disasters and the bird flu epidemic.

: North Korean Premier Kim Yong-il visits China and meets Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao.

: Taiwan announces the publication of its first Quadrennial Defense Review, which calls for the creation of an all-volunteer military by 2014.

: North Korea announces it will reopen the border for South Koreans to return from the Kaesong Industrial Complex but is not yet allowing people or cargo to cross from the South to the North.

: A ship carrying 1,600 Chinese mainland tourists arrives at Keelung harbor in Taiwan, marking the first direct cruise from the mainland to the island.

: Vietnam issues a protest to China for allowing a tour company to open a tour to Phu Lam Island in Viet Nam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago and to the Philippines objecting to its “baseline law.”

: China dispatches a “fishery patrol ship” to the South China Sea to conduct patrols of what it called China’s exclusive maritime zone in the disputed waters surrounding the Paracel and Spratly Islands.

: Japan condemns North Korea’s plan to launch a rocket, warning that it is legally entitled to shoot down any threatening object that falls toward its territory.

: North Korea closes the border with South Korea.

: Two Japanese destroyers carrying about 400 sailors and coast guard officials left Japan to join the international antipiracy mission off the coast of Somalia.

: South Korea announces that the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) mission, which will mark the first directly launched rocket into space from its soil, has been postponed by a month to late July to give engineers more time for tests.

: The Chinese Embassy in Manila describes as “illegal and invalid” the Philippines’ claim of sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and Huangyan Island.

: North Korea notifies the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization that it will launch a communications satellite between April 4-8, 2009.

: China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi visits Washington and meets President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

: North Korea reopens the border with South Korea.

: The Dalai Lama releases transcripts of a speech in which he accuses China of a “brutal crackdown” of the Tibetan revolt that began on March 10, 1959 and warns that Tibetan culture and identity are “nearing extinction.”

: China accuses a U.S. Navy ship for violating international law during the confrontation with Chinese vessels on March 8 in the South China Sea.

: Philippine President Arroyo signs the “baseline law” defining the Philippines’ maritime boundaries as including Kalayaan Group of Islands and the Scarborough Shoal in the Spratly Islands.

: North Korea closes the border and cuts its military telephone link with South Korea in conjunction with the beginning of the U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command exercise Key Resolve/Foal Eagle, leaving 620 workers stranded in the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

: The U.S. issues a protest to the Chinese government over the harassment of a U.S. Navy Ship by Chinese vessels on March 8 in the South China Sea.

: The U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command conducts the annual Key Resolve/Foal Eagle military exercise in South Korea. North Korea says the exercise raises cross-border tension and that Pyongyang is ready for an “all-out confrontation.”

: President Lee Myung-bak visits Australia and meets Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to announce agreements to increase security cooperation and launch formal talks on a free trade agreement.

: North Korea warns that it cannot guarantee the safety of ROK civilian aircraft in or near its airspace if the U.S.-ROK war games go ahead as planned.

: The New York Times reports that President Obama sent a secret letter in February to President Medvedev offering to halt the construction of a missile defense system if Moscow helps suppress Iran’s missile threat.  The White House denies the offer of such a deal.

: The IAEA approves additional nuclear inspection measures for India. The so-called Additional Protocol will give the IAEA access to information regarding India’s nuclear exports, but does not mention verification of nuclear imports, short-notice inspections, or the IAEA’s right to take chemical samples.

: South Korea launches a 300-person naval antipiracy contingent on a naval destroyer for duty in the waters off Somalia.

: U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth visits China, South Korea, and Japan to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue.

: At the first UNC general-level meeting in almost seven years at Panmunjom, North Korea demands that the U.S. and ROK cancel their joint annual drills Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, scheduled for March 9-20. The meeting lasts barely half an hour.

: North Korea marks Independence Movement Day by renewing threats against South Korea, the U.S. and Japan, threatening “merciless punishment.”

: China responds in detail to the U.S. report on human rights and releases it own report on the U.S., saying crime is a threat and racial discrimination prevails.

: The ASEAN summit is held in Hua Hin Thailand.  The summit was initially due to take place in December, but had to be postponed after demonstrators took over Bangkok’s two airports.

: U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense David Sedney holds the annual Defense Policy Coordination Talks with the People’s Liberation Army in Beijing, marking the resumption of their military dialogue after Beijing suspended it last year to protest U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

: The U.S. State Department releases its annual country report on human rights practices.

: North Korea announces that it plans to put its Kwangmyongsong (Lodestar)-2 satellite into orbit aboard its Eunha (Galaxy)-2 rocket.

: Democratic Party of Japan President Ozawa states that as Japan assumes a greater role in its defense the need for a U.S. presence will decrease and that the presence of the 7th fleet alone should suffice in maintaining security in the Far East.

: Prime Minister Aso meets President Obama in Washington, become the first foreign leader at the White House since Obama took office.

: ASEAN plus 3 finance ministers meet in Phuket, Thailand and agree to expand the Chiang Mai Initiative by increasing the scale of emergency funds from US$80 billion to $120 billion to help members solve their currency liquidity shortages.

: The Six-Party Talks Peace and Security Working Group meets in Moscow.

: Prime Minister Aso and President Dmitry Medvedev meet in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to discuss bilateral issues including a longstanding territorial dispute involving four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido in northern Japan.

: Russia signs an agreement to deliver 15 million metric tons of oil a year (301,000 barrels a day) to China for the next twenty years and build a branch from a new Siberian pipeline to the Chinese border in exchange for a $25 billion credit.

: Secretary of State Clinton and her Japanese counterpart Foreign Minister Nakasone sign an agreement on the relocation of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, honoring the commitment to the 2006 road map on realigning U.S. forces in Japan.

: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and China.

: Japanese Foreign Minister Nakasone Hirofume visit South Korea and meets his counterpart Yu Myung-Hwan and President Lee Myung-Bak.

: President Hu Jintao visits Mali, Tanzania, Mauritius, Senegal, and Saudi Arabia.

: Vice President Joseph Biden and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov meet at the 45th Munich Security Conference and agree to start discussions on reducing the number of nuclear arms in the U.S. and Russia.

: Japan sends fact finding mission to Djibouti and the Middle East to assess facilities to house a Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) antipiracy patrol group.

: China declares a drought emergency in eight northern and central wheat- producing regions of the country.

: Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva visits Japan and meets Prime Minister Aso.

: Defense sources in Seoul confirm that a Taepodong-2 long-range missile is now at the North’s main testing ground at Musudan-ri in the northeast.

: The Kyrgyz government announces that it will be closing the NATO airbase at Manas, a vital supply depot for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

: Cobra Gold, an annual military exercise involving troops from the U.S., Thailand, Japan, Singapore, and Indonesia is held in northern Thailand.

: Japan announces that it will provide $300 million in reconstruction aid to Afghanistan.

: India and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sign an agreement that will give monitors oversight of 14 Indian civilian nuclear reactors by 2014, a prerequisite for implementation of the U.S.-India nuclear agreement.

: Premier Wen Jiabao visits the United Kingdom and stresses the need to deepen ties between the UK and China.

: Gen. Jing Zhiyuan, the commander of China’s Second Artillery Corps, in a co-authored article in the journal Qiushi, says that China will develop “a nuclear and conventional missile force corresponding to the needs of winning a war” in conditions changed by modern information technology.

: North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea announces that it would nullify “all the agreed points concerning the issue of putting an end to the political and military confrontation between the north and the south.”

: The Pacific Island Forum leaders hold a summit in Port Moresby and threaten to suspend Fiji from the Forum if Fiji’s coup leader Frank Bainimarama does not establish “credible plans” before May 1 to hold elections in 2009.

: The annual World Economic Forum is held in Davos, Switzerland.

: Wang Jiarui, chief of the international department of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee visits North Korea and meets Kim Jong-il. This is Kim’s first reported meeting with a foreign guest since August 2008.

: China releases its white paper entitled China’s National Defense in 2008.

: Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.

: The U.S. freezes the assets of Burmese businessmen Win Aung and Zaw Zaw and their companies for aiding Burma’s military junta.

: Hwang Joon-kook, director general of South Korea’s Foreign Ministry’s North Korean Nuclear Affairs Bureau, leads a five-member fact-finding mission to North Korea to discuss buying unused fuel rods stored at the Yongbyon nuclear facility.

: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) holds a deputy foreign ministerial meeting in Moscow to discuss Afghanistan.

: World Health Organization invites Taiwan to participate in International Health Regulations (IHR).

: North Korean Foreign Ministry statement calls for “free field access” to ensure there are no nuclear weapons in South Korea. The statement also says that the North will not to give up its nuclear weapons until the U.S. drops its “hostile policy” and establishes diplomatic relations.

: Japanese Prime Minister Aso Taro visits South Korea and meets President Lee Myung-bak.

: Japanese Foreign Minister Nakasone Hirofumi visits Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos; meets his counterparts; and signs agreements on demining activities and economic cooperation.

: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte visits China to mark 30 years of diplomatic ties and give the Bush administration’s farewell to the Chinese leadership. He meets Vice President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

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