China - Southeast Asia
Chronology from Sep 2019 to Dec 2019
: The New York Times reports that China is building and developing the longest airstrip at the Dara Sakor International Airport in Cambodia, amid speculation that the airport facilities would turn into a new military base for China. The Cambodian government officially denies the report and insists that there will be no Chinese military presence in Cambodia. Dara Sakor, leased to China for 99 years, is located less than 50 miles from Ream Naval Base, Cambodia’s largest naval base. In July, The Wall Street Journal reported on a secret draft agreement between China and Cambodia that granted China exclusive access to parts of the Ream Naval Base for three decades.
: Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung calls on China to refrain from engaging in provocations that would undermine regional peace and security in the maritime dispute in 2020, when Vietnam takes over the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN.
: Senior Chinese and Indonesian defense chiefs meet in Beijing to discuss the strengthening of bilateral military and security ties. Indonesia is seeking Chinese support to help develop and modernize its defense and weapon systems.
: Wang visits Myanmar and meets Myanmar’s State Counselor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi. Both sides pledge to strengthen bilateral cooperation as the two countries celebrate seven decades of diplomatic relations next year. Among other issues, the meeting focuses on the Rakhine issue, with China agreeing to provide repatriation assistance and promote economic development in Rakhine.
: Officials from Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam agree to increase regional law enforcement cooperation and cross-border investigations to address the transnational criminal narcotics networks operating in the lower Mekong area.
: China and ASEAN mark the 16th anniversary of their strategic partnership in the regional ASEAN-related summit in Bangkok, Thailand, with regional leaders agreeing that ASEAN-China relations are advancing across diplomatic, economic, and security fronts. They finalize negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Regional leaders appear optimistic that ASEAN and China are on track and working toward a timely completion of the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, citing the first reading of the single draft negotiating text of the regional accord in mid-2019.
: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte meets visiting Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua in Manila. Both sides agree to “fast-track” bilateral cooperation through the BRI to develop the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership.
: Senior economic officials and business delegations from China and Vietnam meet in Quang Ninh, Vietnam for the ninth conference on bilateral economic corridor cooperation. Established in 2004, the bilateral discussion focuses on increasing cross-border economic ties, transportation and infrastructure links, and tourism.
: China’s Ministry of National Defense pledges to provide $84 million in aid to Cambodia’s national defense, doubling China’s military aid to Phnom Penh next year.
: Speaking on the sidelines of the Xiangshan Forum, senior Chinese and Vietnamese defense chiefs agree to deepen bilateral military ties and increase communication and cooperation through the ministerial-level defense policy dialogue mechanism.
: China and Singapore agree to upgrade their defense pact to include more frequent high-level dialogues, the establishment of a bilateral hotline, and larger scale joint military exercises.
: Myanmar’s Kachin State government announces that it intends to sign a new deal with China to develop the Namjim Industrial Zone. The project is expected to cost more than $400 million, including around 500 factories and 5,000 buildings, as well as new paved roads and infrastructure projects in and around the development zone.
: A Pew Research Center survey finds that public opinion on China among its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region is turning negative. The regional survey covers five countries, including two Southeast Asian nations, Indonesia and the Philippines. Favorable views of China in Indonesia fell from 73% in 2002 to 36% in 2019.
: China and Thailand sign a shipbuilding agreement that will see the China State Shipbuilding Corp build and transfer an amphibious transport dock ship for Thailand. The ship is expected to be the Royal Thai Navy’s largest navy ship.
: Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and visiting Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah meet in Beijing and announce that China and Malaysia agree to set up a new joint dialogue mechanism for discussing South China Sea issues. China has similar bilateral consultative mechanisms on the maritime dispute with Brunei and the Philippines.
: Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry raises objections regarding Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8’s activities in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, citing a violation of its sovereignty and jurisdiction in the territorial waters.