China - Southeast Asia

Chronology from May 2023 to Aug 2023

: China’s People’s Liberation Army Southern Theater Command and the Singapore Armed Forces announce that they will conduct “Exercise Cooperation,” a two-week joint exercise that will commence in mid-September and focus on tactical training, and small arms live firing, among other activities.

: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a four-day, three-country visit to Southeast Asia that includes Singapore, Malaysia, and Cambodia. The tour signals China’s intention to shore up diplomatic relations and deepen engagement with Southeast Asia. In Singapore, Wang’s meetings and discussion with Singapore’s leaders conclude with Singapore’s in-principle support for China’s interest in joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

: Chinese President Xi Jinping meets Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Chengdu. Both leaders agree to enhance bilateral cooperation in the areas of public health, research and technology, as well as regional security and development.

: Southeast Asian foreign ministers convene in Jakarta for the region’s semi-annual meeting and for their meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. ASEAN and China agree on the “Guidelines for Accelerating the Early Conclusion of an Effective and Substantive Code of Conduct” to expedite the negotiations. In addition, ASEAN and Chinese diplomats engage in discussions to more fully implement the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a trade deal involving 15 countries in the region.

: Philippine military raises concerns about the increasing presence of Chinese coast guard ships and militia vessels in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, specifically near Sabina Shoal, Second Thomas Shoal, and the Reed Bank. The Philippines’ air surveillance missions also report that Chinese coast guard vessels are shadowing and firing water cannons at the Philippine coast guard ships escorting boats on a resupply mission for Philippine naval soldiers stationed in the Second Thomas Shoal.

: Indonesia, host of ASEAN’s first-ever joint military drills in the South China Sea due in late September, announces that it will move the location of the regional exercise to the South Natuna Sea, closer to Indonesian waters.

: Eurasia Group reports on new survey results regarding Asia’s views on US and China’s influence in the region. The survey of 1,500 adults from Singapore, South Korea, and the Philippines finds that Singaporeans are less worried about rising great power tensions and have a more balanced view of US-China competition, compared to others. Most respondents across the three countries have a positive view of US influence, with Singaporeans being more evenly divided: 63% of those surveyed think China’s influence has been positive, while 64% think the same of the United States.

: China and Singapore defense establishments agree to set up a secure, bilateral hotline to strengthen high-level communication between their defense leaders.

: Chinese Premier Li Qiang meets Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong in Beijing. The two sides discuss furthering bilateral cooperation in such areas as energy, digitalization, sustainability, and increasing people-to-people exchanges.

: Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang visits the China-Myanmar border areas in southwestern Yunnan province. Qin calls for local authorities in the border town of Ruili to maintain friendly cooperation with Myanmar.

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