China - Southeast Asia

Chronology from Jan 2008 to Mar 2008

:   Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pays a working visit to Laos and takes part in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Summit in Vientiane. Wen meets Lao President Choummaly Saygnasone to discuss closer cooperation in the economic sector.

:  Wu Hongbo, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister, visits Brunei to attend the 14th China-ASEAN Senior Officials’ Consultation.  The meeting seeks to implement the consensus reached at the 2007 summit held between both sides and strengthen their strategic partnership.  Additionally, the meeting provides a platform to further exchange views on jointly implementing follow-up actions to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

:   Qin Guangrong, governor of Yunnan province, presides over the opening ceremony of the new trans-national highway linking Kunming city in southwest Yunnan to Bangkok, cutting total travel time by half to approximately 20 hours. Xinhua News reports that nearly $400 billion worth of cargo will be transported each year via this new linkage between China, the Greater Mekong area, and Southeast Asia.

:   The Chinese Academy of Military Science holds senior level gathering of military officials and scholars from Southeast Asia to discuss current trends in military modernization, regional security issues, and confidence-building measures.

:   Malaysia’s Public Bank announces the launch of the PB China-ASEAN Equity Fund (PBCAEF), which will invest in Chinese stocks listed in China, Hong Kong, the U.S., and other approved markets to capitalize on rapid economic growth in China and Southeast Asian countries.

:   The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosts the 9th China-ASEAN Joint Cooperation Committee in Chongqing.  Senior officials from the ASEAN secretariat and member states as well as representatives from 11 governmental ministries in China attend.

:  The China-ASEAN Business Council announces that China and ASEAN have become each other’s fourth largest trading partner.  Total two-way trade stood at $202.5 billion in 2007, a 26 percent increase from the previous year.

:  The Cambodian Investment Board (CIB) announces that China, Thailand, and South Korea are the top three foreign investing countries in Cambodia in 2007.  The CIB approved a total of $51 million of registered capital and over $461 million of fixed assets for Chinese investors last year.

:  Liu Jianchao, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, clarifies China’s position toward Myanmar at a public press conference.  Liu explains that China pursues a “good-neighborly and friendly” policy, and that it will continue to call for “peace and reconciliation” in Myanmar.

:   The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region unveils the “Guangxi Beibu Bay Economic Zone Development Plan,” which will create a new regional logistics base, as well as a trade processing and manufacturing center between southern China and neighboring ASEAN countries, including Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.

:   Ibrahim Gambari, UN envoy for Myanmar, is in Beijing to meet senior Chinese officials, where he expresses concern that the Myanmar government is delaying approval for his visit to Myanmar in late April.  At the conclusion of his consultations in Beijing, however, Gambari mentions that he has received “encouragement” from Beijing that Myanmar “may move up” the date of his visit.

:  Luo Haocai, vice chairperson of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), visits Jakarta.  Luo meets Agung Laksono, speaker of the Indonesian Parliament, to discuss the Beijing Olympics and cooperation in investment and trade.

:   Qin Guangrong, vice governor of China’s southwestern province of Yunnan, announces that the provincial government is on schedule to complete four main international railways by 2009, linking Yunnan to Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.  The project will improve regional trade and transport efficiency.

:  Yang Jiechi visits Brunei and meets Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.  The sultan notes that Brunei attaches great importance to its stable relations with China, regarding it as one of the most important bilateral ties.  They agree to strengthen cooperation on energy security, agriculture, tourism, and infrastructure development.

:  Yang Jiechi, Chinese foreign minister, visits Cambodia for an official three-day visit to mark the 50th anniversary of Sino-Cambodian diplomatic relations.  Yang meets King Norodom Sihamoni and Hun Sen, Cambodian prime minister.   The two sides agree to establish 2008 as the “Sino-Cambodian Friendship Year,” to elevate bilateral cooperation on the Mekong River regional economic development, to increase consultation in such multilateral fora as the UN, ASEAN, and the East Asia Summit (EAS), and to broaden people-to-people exchanges.

:   Wen Jiabao, Chinese premier, sends an official note of congratulations to Samak Sundaravej, newly elected Thai prime minister, and seeks to deepen the strategic partnership between China and Thailand.

:   The second round of the China-Vietnam Steering Committee on Cooperation is convened in Beijing by Tang Jiaxuan and Pham Gia Khiem, Vietnamese deputy prime minister, in Beijing.  The two sides agree to better handle the South China Sea disputes, maintain frequent senior-level exchanges, cooperate on cross-border crime, and promote cultural ties, among other things.

:  U Myint Maung, special envoy of the Myanmar prime minister, visits Beijing and briefs State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan on the latest political situation in Myanmar, including plans for national reconciliation.  Tang conveys Beijing’s concern with political stability and economic development in Myanmar and calls for greater consultation between all concerned parties within Myanmar.

:   He Luli, vice chairperson of the Standing Committee of the NPC, concludes her five-day official visit to Myanmar, where she meets senior officials at the State Peace and Development Council to discuss bilateral political, economic, and cultural ties.

:   Cao Gangchuan, vice chairperson of the Central Military Commission and defense minister, visits Brunei, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.  In Brunei, Cao pays a courtesy call to Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and discusses current relations between the two armed forces.  In Indonesia, Cao meets his Indonesian counterpart, Juwono Sudarsono. The two ministers agree to set up a working committee to explore prospects for expanding bilateral military ties, including cooperation in manufacturing defense equipment and training of military personnel.

:   Wang Jiarui, chairperson of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, meets Jose De Venecia, speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives in Beijing.  The two exchange views on promoting closer relations between the two countries’ main political parties.  De Venecia also meets Wu Bangguo, chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

:   Vietnamese officials dispatch riot police forces to contain rallies held close to Chinese diplomatic missions in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.  Similar anti-Chinese protests were held last December over the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands.

:   Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of general staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), meets Chiang Chie Foo, Singapore’s Permanent Secretary of Defense, for the first China-Singapore defense dialogue in Beijing to discuss developments between the two militaries.  They sign an agreement on search and rescue and humanitarian cooperation and agree to hold regular military and security-related seminars.

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