US - Southeast Asia
Chronology from Sep 2015 to Dec 2015
: About 50 Philippine protesters visit Thitu Island (Philippines: Pagasa; China: Zhongye Dao) to show their support for Manila’s claims in the South China Sea.
: Assistant Secretary of State Russel travels to Thailand and Laos. In Thailand, Russel leads the US delegation to the fifth US-Thai Strategic Dialogue on Dec. 16, marking the first time the dialogue has been held since 2012.
: Singapore Minister for Defense Ng Eng Hen visits Washington and meets Secretary of Defense Carter. They sign a joint enhanced defense cooperation agreement (DCA) that will provide a framework for an expanded defense relationship.
: US lawmakers sign a letter of support for Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsey, calling on Prime Minister Hun Sen to stop oppressing him. A Cambodian government spokesman dismisses the letter saying US legislators do not understand events in Cambodia.
: A Philippine court convicts a US marine of homicide for the 2014 killing of a transgender woman. He is sentenced to six to twelve years in a Philippine prison.
: The Philippines concludes its argument before the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on Manila’s South China Sea EEZ claims.
: Hundreds in Bangkok protest Ambassador Davies’ remarks expressing US concern about Thailand’s stringent lese majeste laws.
: US Ambassador to the Philippines Phillip Goldberg announces that US military aid to the Philippines increased this year to $79 million. (Since 2002, the US has provided $500 million in military assistance to the Philippines.)
: Assistant Secretary of State Russel meets Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein to assure them of US support for Myanmar’s democratic transition.
: The 27th ASEAN Summit and the 10th East Asia Summit are held in Kuala Lumpur. The US and ASEAN conclude a Strategic Partnership.
: Presidents Barack Obama and Benigno Aquino meet on the sidelines of the APEC Forum in Manila to discuss the South China Sea conflicts and the pending US-Philippine Enhanced Defense Partnership. New US military aid is also announced.
: United States lifts its ban on the sale of lethal capabilities to Vietnam in order to encourage “interoperability with other regional forces.”
: US and Cambodian navies conduct the sixth annual CARAT exercise at Cambodia’s Ream Navy Base, with 500 sailors participate in both land and sea-based activities.
: Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and the US Navy conduct a joint exercise in the South China Sea – the first bilateral exercise of these two in the region.
: US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein visit the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt off the coast of Malaysian Borneo.
: The ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus cancels its usual joint statement after China insists that any statement omit reference to the South China Sea conflicts.
: Ambassador to Thailand Davies meets Prime Minister Prayut Chan-Ocha. The ambassador welcomes Thailand to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
: Permanent Court of Arbitration awards its first decision in The Republic of Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China case, ruling that the case was “properly constituted” under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, that China’s “non-appearance” (i.e., refusal to participate) did not preclude the Court’s jurisdiction, and that the Philippines was within its rights in filing the case.
: US guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen reportedly sails within 12nm of Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in the South China Sea.
: Indonesian President Joko Widodo visits the US and meets President Barack Obama and other senior officials.
: Deputy US National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes visits Southeast Asia with a stop in Vientiane on Oct. 16 to celebrate the anniversary of Laos-US diplomatic relations and a stop in Myanmar from Oct. 18-20 ahead of that country’s Nov. 8 election.
Oct. 15, 2015. State Department issues a statement congratulating Myanmar for reaching a ceasefire agreement with eight ethnic insurgent groups.
: Trilateral India, US, and Japan Malabar naval exercises are held in the Indian Ocean. Over 1,000 personnel are involved, and four US Seventh Fleet ships participate, including the Nimitz-class carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt.
: US and Philippine navies and marines conduct the annual Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) in various locations around the Philippines.
: US and Malaysia agree to set up a Regional Digital Counter-Messaging Center in Kuala Lumpur to counter Islamic State propaganda.
: US and six ASEAN states (Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Thailand) conduct Southeast Asia Coordination and Training (SEACAT) exercise.
: Sixth US-Vietnam Defense Policy Dialogue is held in Washington, led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Amy Seawright and Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh.
: Secretary of State Kerry meets ASEAN foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly annual meeting.
: Newly appointed US Ambassador Glyn Davies arrives in Bangkok. The post has been vacant for almost a year.
: In a commentary in TODAY Online, a widely read Singapore newspaper, the US is urged to conduct patrols to affirm freedom of navigation near islands that China has created in the South China Sea.
: Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi meets Secretary of State Kerry in Washington to discuss President Joko Widodo’s upcoming visit to the US.
: US State Department issues a statement of “concern” over the disqualification of approximately 100 candidates for Myanmar’s upcoming election, noting that almost all Muslim candidates were disqualified.
: US Embassy joins other Western embassies in Myanmar to urge political parties not to use religion “as a tool of division and conflict” in their election campaigns.
: Vietnam’s National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung visits Washington and tells Secretary of State John Kerry that Vietnam hopes to strengthen relations with the US.
: Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu says that the country will upgrade military facilities on the Natuna Islands.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Pacific and Asian Affairs Daniel Russel visits Myanmar to meet Cabinet officials, members of the Union Election Commission, ethnic leaders, and Aung San Suu Kyi.