China - Southeast Asia

Chronology from May 2017 to Aug 2017

: Malaysian government indicates that it will consider China’s proposal to set up a radar surveillance system and regional counterintelligence center in Johor. The proposal includes Chinese deployment of up to 12 units of the AR3 multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) in Malaysia, a system that is used to engage remote strategic targets like command centers, and is capable of launching conventional rockets as well as guided missiles with a range of up to 280 km.

: A groundbreaking ceremony takes place to mark the launch of a new high-speed railway project linking Kunming in southern China through Thailand and eventually to the eastern seaboard of Malaysia.

: ASEAN and Chinese officials endorse the framework of a code of conduct (COC) on the South China Sea, with China affirming that it remains committed to finalizing the negotiations for the COC with its Southeast Asian partners.

: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrives in Manila and indicates that China is open to joint oil and gas exploration projects in the South China Sea with the Philippines and with other countries in the region.

: Vietnam orders a Spanish oil exploration firm Repsol to withdraw its oil and gas drilling rig from an area off the coast of Vietnam and in a disputed area near the Spratlys in the South China Sea.

: China announces that it will offer more counterterrorism assistance to the Philippines and help rebuild formerly rebel-held areas in southern Philippines. The announcement follows the arrival of the first Chinese weapons shipment to the Philippines to help fight extremist groups in Mindanao.

: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang accepts an invitation from Singapore’s government to make an official visit to Singapore later this year. Both sides indicate interest in further discussion to upgrade the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

: Recently-appointed Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano visits China. He meets Chinese counterparts Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi in Beijing.

: Gen. Fan Changlong, vice chair of China’s Central Military Commission, shortens his official visit to Vietnam, with the Chinese Ministry of Defense reporting that a previously scheduled meeting with senior Vietnamese defense officials is cancelled.

: China stages military exercises in the Paracel Islands.

: China and Myanmar conduct a joint naval military exercise, the first of its kind between the two countries.

: China and the Philippines hold first bilateral discussion over the South China Sea. The talks follow concerns over Xi’s warning that there would be serious consequences and conflict if Manila attempts to enforce an arbitration ruling and drill for oil in the disputed areas of the South China Sea.

: China and ASEAN member states announce agreement on a draft framework for a code of conduct (COC) for the South China Sea.

: China hosts delegates from 138 countries for the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, including: Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Laotian President Bounnhang Vorachith, and Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.

: President Xi meets Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in Beijing ahead of the Belt and Road Forum. They agree to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the areas of trade, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, and cultural exchanges while putting aside differences over the South China Sea.

: Chinese President Xi Jinping discusses China-ASEAN and China-Philippine ties with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in a phone conversation. Xi expresses his appreciation to Duterte for his role as ASEAN chair in promoting closer cooperation between Southeast Asia and China.

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