China - Southeast Asia

Chronology from May 2020 to Aug 2020

: Regional trade ministers indicate that they are making significant progress to finalize the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a sprawling trade agreement that spans 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific, including China and all 10-member states in ASEAN. The ministers are hopeful that the deal will be ready for signing at the summit of RCEP leaders in November.

: Philippines’ Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin indicates in a public interview that Manila will continue to patrol the Spratlys, ignoring warnings from China to stop “illegal provocations” in the disputed island chain.

: The third Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting convenes via videoconference. Chinese Premier Li co-chairs the meeting with Laotian counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith. At the meeting, China pledges to share water management data on the Mekong River, which would enable downstream countries to make plans and adjustments in the river’s flow for fishing and farming practices.

: Yang Jiechi, member of China’s Politburo and director of the Chinese Communist Party’s Foreign Affairs Office, arrives in Singapore for a three-day visit and meets Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The two leaders discuss bilateral cooperation and the COVID-19 situation, as well as regional security and global developments. The two countries are keen to strengthen supply chain and cross-border connectivity to facilitate economic recovery amidst the global pandemic.

: Myanmar’s government formally approves China’s strategic deep seaport project in the Rakhine State. The project is part of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor and China’s Belt and Road Initiative and will, when complete, provide China with direct access to the Indian Ocean and allow it to bypass the Malacca Strait for oil and other imports.

: ASEAN foreign ministers reiterate their call on all countries to refrain from the use of force and exercise self-restraint in the South China Sea.

: Vietnam lodges protests against China’s recent military drills near the Parcel and Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

: Trade and commerce officials from China and Myanmar hold an online planning meeting to discuss cross-border electronic commerce between China’s Yunnan province and Myanmar’s Mandalay region. The two sides emphasize the increasing importance of digital and mobile platforms for payments and retail trade in furthering bilateral business, economic, and trade ties.

: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang exchanges congratulatory messages with Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-o-cha on the 45th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties. The two leaders reaffirm the importance of Sino-Thai strategic partnership and of collaboration in containing COVID-19.

: Vietnam protests the laying of undersea cables at the disputed Paracel Islands by China, citing the activity as a violation of Vietnam’s territorial sovereignty and a potential source of concern for militarizing the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

: Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanges congratulatory messages with Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte to celebrate the 45th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties. Xi says China is ready to promote closer political, economic, diplomatic, and cultural ties to new levels.

: Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana arrives on Thitu Island to launch a beaching ramp for construction of infrastructure on the disputed island reef in the SCS.

: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly denies claims that China has set up a military presence in the Ream Naval Base.

: Indonesia submits a diplomatic note to United Nations Secretary-General reiterating the validity of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and endorsing the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea.

: A Chinese survey ship and two coast guard vessels in the SCS leave the disputed waters after an oil exploration vessel contracted by Malaysian state energy company Petronas left the disputed waters earlier the same day.

: China announces a unilateral fishing ban from May 1 to Aug. 16 in the South China Sea (SCS), drawing criticism from Vietnam.

Date Range