China - Southeast Asia

Chronology from Apr 2007 to Jul 2007

: The ASEAN Cosmetics Committee decides to collectively ban import of all Chinese toothpaste under the trademarks “Mr. Cool” and “Excel” which have been found to contain high levels of diethylene glycol (DEG), a toxic chemical.

: Chinese and Philippine police announce that they have jointly broken a major cross-border drug production and trafficking case, seizing more than 180 kg of methamphetamine hydrochloride, commonly known as “ice.” As part of the ASEAN-China anti-drug campaign, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security had been sharing information with police in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Chinese Hong Kong and Macao.

:   The 16th World Economic Forum on East Asia opens in Singapore with participation from ASEAN countries and dialogue partners. The Chinese delegation is represented by Assistant Governor of the People’s Bank Yi Gang. The forum will focus on four key themes: Asian leadership, risk management, sustainable growth, and the challenge of competitiveness for regional economies.

: Representatives from China and member countries of ASEAN conclude the second Conference on China-ASEAN People-to-People Friendship Organization (CACPPFO). A five-year plan to strengthen people-to-people cooperation and exchanges at senior-levels is issued.

: Malaysian Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor arrives in Beijing for a week-long visit to meet with counterpart Shao Qiwei. The two sides propose a “zero-fee” package tour agreement, providing discounts for transportation and accommodations to promote bilateral tourism development. Malaysian authorities are targeting 1 million Chinese tourists during Visit Malaysia Year 2007, more than double the 440,000 who visited Malaysia in 2006.

: Asian Development Bank announces that China, Thailand, and Laos have agreed to build a bridge across the Mekong River.  The bridge will cross the Mekong River between Chiang Khong in northern Thailand and Houyxay in Laos, directly linking China’s Yunnan province with Bangkok.  The infrastructure project will be completed in 2011 and will link the economies of Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam to facilitate trade, tourism, and further integrate the Mekong region.

: Lou Gan, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CCP Central Committee, meets Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong in Beijing to exchange views on judicial reform and bilateral relations. During Trong’s week-long visit, he will also meet representatives from the Chinese Central Commission for Political Science and Law and the Supreme People’s Court.

: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang condemns Vietnam for violating a regional code of conduct on the South China Sea and asks Hanoi to stop oil exploration near the Spratly Islands. BP, in a joint venture with the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group, has reportedly halted plans to conduct further exploration.

: Following a visit to Kunming, Yunnan in early June, Lt. Gen. Thein Sein, first secretary of Myanmar’s State Peace and Development Council, confirms that Myanmar will export natural gas from its offshore gas reserves to Yunnan via a pipeline China has offered to build. In April 2007, Beijing approved the construction of an oil pipeline from Sittwe, a port in southern Myanmar, to Kunming, Yunnan.

: Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong meets Jusuf Kalla, his Indonesian counterpart, in Beijing. They agree to develop a stronger strategic partnership in several areas, such as trade, energy security, infrastructure development, agriculture, fishery, and public health. Kalla, on a five-day visit, also meets local officials in Sichuan and Hubei.

: Philippine President Arroyo embarks on a two-day visit to Chengdu and Chongqing in southwestern China to strengthen trade and tourism ties between the two countries and encourage more Chinese investment in the Philippines.

: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen praises China for Beijing’s generous unconditional aid to Cambodia. Beijing has reportedly emerged as Cambodia’s biggest donor, with at least $800 million of aid since 2005.  International donors, however, have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of reforms and the government’s unwillingness to tackle corruption in Cambodia.

: China and Myanmar agree to strengthen cooperation on management of border lumbering and on the protection of wild animals.  According to the Chinese State Forestry Administration, Beijing has held two rounds of consultations with Myanmar since 2006 to address the problem and work toward a memorandum of understanding on forestry cooperation and a protocol on forest firefighting.

: Chinese State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan meets First Secretary of Myanmar’s State Peace and Development Council Thein Sein. Thein briefs Tang on the domestic situation in Myanmar; Tang urges Myanmar to “maintain stability, national concord and economic development, which serve the interests of Myanmar people and are conducive to regional peace, stability and development.” Both sides agree to strengthen bilateral relations through pragmatic cooperation in trade and drug enforcement mechanisms.

: To deepen collaboration between China and Singapore, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, minister of education of Singapore, announces that his ministry has agreed to help train 1,200 mid-to senior-level officials from Dalian through its urban development, public policy management, and administration programs.

: Lt. Gen. Zhang Qingsheng visits Singapore to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue. Zhang delivers a speech on China’s role in international stability. His attendance marks the most senior-level delegation Beijing has dispatched to the meeting.

: The sixth IISS Shangri-La Dialogue is held in Singapore.

: Lan Lijun, the Chinese ambassador to Indonesia, announces that Beijing will donate $910,000 to support Indonesia’s avian flu eradication program. China’s assistance is provided under a memorandum of understanding between both countries on technical and economic cooperation in October 2006. Under the MoU, China agreed to contribute up to $2.2 million to support the eradication program.  In the first phase, China delivered $775,000 worth of vaccines, syringes, disinfectants, and medical equipment.

: According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, trade between China and Malaysia will reach $50 billion before 2010. Assistant Commerce Minister Chen Jian notes that more Chinese companies are expected to invest in Malaysia given the latter’s political stability and Beijing’s policy of encouraging more enterprises to invest abroad. The first quarter of 2007 saw bilateral trade at $13.4 billion. Malaysia is China’s eighth largest trading partner and the second largest among ASEAN countries.

: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao meets Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanon in Beijing. They discuss historical amity between the two countries and agree to enhance strategic cooperation. The two leaders agree to maintain the frequent senior-level exchanges and meetings, work to boost trade volume to $50 billion by 2010, and increase collaboration on cultural and educational exchanges, anti-drug campaigns, defense issues, and public health. These measures will be included in the “Thailand-China Joint Action Plan for Strategic Cooperation,” an agreement defining the renewed partnership between both sides.

: Adm. Timothy Keating, Pacific Command commander says, in reference to his May 10-15 visit to China, to the Washington Times, “all the Chinese leaders with whom he spoke … indicated their inclination to pursue the development of aircraft carriers.

: Lt. Gen. Zhang Qingsheng visits the Philippines to attend the third round of bilateral defense and security dialogue. Zhang and his counterpart discuss a wide range of issues, including maritime security, defense and military construction, terrorism, and the regional stability in Northeast Asia. Both sides agree to strengthen exchanges and collaboration between the PLA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

:   Beijing announces that it will not sign a joint statement issued by ASEAN urging Myanmar to release detained democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi arguing her confinement is an internal matter for Myanmar’s government and urges Myanmar to maintain political stability while making progress toward national reconciliation.

: He Yong, deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Chinese Communist Party, meets Taufleuarachman Ruki, chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission of Indonesia, to discuss increasing bilateral cooperation in combating corruption between China and Indonesia.

: China Security publishes Zhang Xuegang’s article, “Southeast Asia and Energy: Gateway to Stability,” on China’s relationship with energy. Zhang is a Chinese expert on China-Southeast Asian issues.

: Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet visits China and meets Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing. They emphasize the positive political and economic relations in recent years. They agree to increase bilateral ties, enhancing cooperation in trade, politics, culture, transportation, and people-to-people exchanges. A joint communiqué agreeing to finish border demarcation in 2008 is also issued.

: Liu Qi, member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, meets Sombath Yialiher, member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, to exchange views on strengthening relations between the two parties and the two countries. Sombath is leading a senior Laotian delegation for a week-long visit to China.

: China and Vietnam announce that a new highway bridge spanning more than a quarter of a kilometer over the Honghe River on their borders is expected to be completed and opened for public use in December 2007. The new bridge will cut travel time and increase the flow of trade between both countries.

: A China Daily editorial concludes that “a deeply integrated Asia is far from a reality, given the huge differences between Asian countries.”

: Mohammed Bolkiah, Brunei’s minister of foreign affairs and trade, receives Wu Guanzheng, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, to discuss strengthening bilateral ties in trade and energy. They agree to increase trade to $1 billion by 2010.

: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visits the U.S. and meets President Bush.

: Wu Bangguo meets Ramli Ngah Talib, speaker of Malaysia’s House of Representatives, and urges both sides to upgrade the level of bilateral ties and frame an action plan for strategic cooperation.

: According to Jane’s Defense Weekly, China has put forth a proposal to ASEAN countries to organize its first multinational military exercise. While the responses from ASEAN are still unknown, China’s overture indicates the PLA’s intention to further engage military forces in the region.

: Goh Chok Tong, Singapore’s senior minister and former prime minister, begins a four-day official visit to China. He meets Jiang Zhenghua, vice chairman of the National People’s Congress, to review the close political and economic ties between the two countries. China is Singapore’s fourth-largest trading partner while Singapore is China’s seventh-largest trading partner. China remains Singapore’s top destination for foreign investment. Both sides agree to intensify trade and investment ties.

: Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, meets Gloria Arroyo, president of the Philippines, at the annual Boa’o Forum for Asia (April 21-22). With relations “at an historic high” both sides agree to deepen cooperation in trade, agriculture, infrastructure development, and political trust.

: At the invitation of head of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrat Party, the ruling party in the Philippines, Ai Ping, director general of the Chinese Communist Party International Department, leads a delegation to observe the Philippine elections.

: Research Memorandum by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority concludes that Southeast Asian and other regional economies remain very dependent on the U.S. market, U.S. investment, and that China’s domestic demand still lacks the driving force to steer the region.

: Newsweek International publishes Joshua Kurlantzick adaptation of his book “Charm Offensive: Howe China’s Soft Power is Transforming the World” that highlights Chinese soft power.

: Lt. General Zhang Qingsheng, deputy chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) meets Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, secretary general of Indonesia’s Ministry of Defense, in Beijing for the second round of China-Indonesia security consultation.  According to the Zhongguo Xinwen She news agency, the two sides exchange views on international and regional security issues and enhancing relations between the two armies.

: Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn arrives in Beijing for a 12-day visit to China. Sirindhorn meets senior Chinese officials to expand fields of cooperation that will contribute to the strategic partnership between China and Thailand.

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