US - Southeast Asia
Chronology from Sep 2018 to Dec 2018
: An unexpected tsunami, thought to be caused by the collapse of the Anak Krakatau volcano, hits the coast of Indonesia’ Sundra Strait, killing over 300 people and injuring over 1000.
: Congressman Ed Royce, then-chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Congressman Mike McCaul send letter to Secretary of State Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen expressing deep concern by reports of the administration’s intentions to deport Vietnamese immigrants “who have lived in the United States more than 23 years.”
: Malaysia’s Attorney General files criminal charges against three Goldman Sachs employees for attempting to embezzle $2.7 billion from the state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
: US returns the Bells of Balangiga to the Philippines after their removal from the Church of San Lorenzo de Martir following a violent episode between US forces and Filipino revolutionaries over 100 years ago.
: Following on Mahathir’s comments in Singapore, in an interview with the Financial Times Anwar Ibrahim, leader of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) party in Malaysia, demands that Goldman Sachs return $826.59 million it collected to raise bonds for 1MDB.
: Guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville conducts a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea by sailing near the Paracel Islands. A Chinese vessel shadowed the Chancellorsville as it sailed past the islands, but all interactions “were deemed safe and professional,” according to anonymous US officials.
: Senate Human Rights Caucus, led by Sen. Thom Tillis, issues a statement applauding Vice President Pence for “affirming the United States’ commitment to a free and independent press and delivering a strong criticism of the treatment of the Rohingya” during his meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi.
: State Department releases statement welcoming the judgment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia that found two Khmer Rouge leaders, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, guilty of crimes against humanity when the Khmer Rouge were in power in Cambodia 1975-79.
: Vice President Pence addresses the East Asia Summit in Singapore and says there is no place for “empire and aggression” in the Indo-Pacific region. He emphasizes that smaller countries must be allowed to prosper, an obvious reference to Southeast Asia.
: In a meeting with Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, Vice President Pence declares that the crackdown on Rohingya in Rakhine State in late 2017 by the Tatmadaw was “without excuse.” He calls on Suu Kyi to pardon two imprisoned Reuters journalists. Suu Kyi suggests the US position on these issues lacked understanding of conditions in Myanmar.
: The 13th East Asia Summit (EAS) is hosted in Singapore by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
: At the ASEAN Meeting on Business and Investment in Singapore, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad says that Goldman Sachs “cheated Malaysia” in its dealings with the state fund 1MDB and indicates that the US government would help return fees that Goldman earned from the fund.
: The 33rd ASEAN Summit and other ASEAN-related meetings are held in Singapore. Thailand will assume the ASEAN chairmanship on Nov. 15.
: Fifth ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM-Plus) convenes in Singapore. Territorial disputes in the South China Sea are a focus of discussion, as well as disaster relief, maritime research, and antiterrorism efforts.
: Inaugural ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering, hosted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, is attended by leaders of Southeast Asian nations and the IMF, World Bank, and UN.
: US and the Philippines announce they will begin “scoping exercises” intended to move toward the negotiation of a free trade agreement in November. Since then, the timing for commencement of talks has slid into 2019.
: Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher Ford travels to Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand for consultations on policy measures to maintain “maximum pressure” on North Korea to promote denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.
: Congress passes the Better Utilization of Investment Leading to Development (BUILD) Act, which will create a new entity to aid US companies in developing partnerships abroad for infrastructure projects.
: US Navy carries out a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the Spratly Islands as the USS Decatur, a guided-missile destroyer, sails within 12 nm of Chinese artificial islands at Gaven and Johnson Reefs as part of a 10-hour patrol.
: A 7.4 magnitude earthquake and tsunami strikes the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, killing nearly 1,350 people.
: Vietnamese President Trang Dai Quang dies after a year-long illness. He is replaced by Communist Party Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, who will wear both the party and the state hats for the next two years.
: Myanmar’s government “resolutely rejects” a ruling by the International Criminal Court (ICC) that said the body has jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh as a possible crime against humanity.
: Singapore and Malaysia agree to postpone construction of the KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail until May 2020; Malaysia will pay Singapore $11 million for costs incurred in suspending the project.
: Court in Myanmar sentences Wa Lone and Kyaw See Oo, Reuters journalists, to seven years in prison for violating state secret laws related to their reporting on the killing of Muslim Rohingya by security forces.