China - Southeast Asia
Chronology from Sep 2021 to Dec 2021
: Senior Chinese and Singaporean officials meet virtually for the 17th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation meeting. The two sides agree on a number of projects, signing 14 pacts that cover such issues as finance and digital trade, conservation, and sustainability.
: Commemorating the 74th anniversary of Myanmar’s Navy, Myanmar officially takes possession of a Chinese diesel electric submarine. Myanmar’s navy plans to expand its fleet of both surface vessels and submarines.
: Indonesia announces that it is planning on sending fishing boats on a regular basis to the Natuna Islands to report irregular activities in the waters north of the islands, near the contested South China Sea, after China’s recent demand that Indonesia stop drilling for oil and gas in the disputed area.
: China-Laos high-speed railway is inaugurated and officially begins operation. Construction for the railway began in December 2016 and cost nearly $6 billion. The railway covers about 1,000 km and connects Vientiane, Lao’s capital, to Kunming in China’s Yunnan province. Due to the pandemic, trains will not carry passengers across the Laos-China border; only freight trains will cross the border for now.
: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets Vietnamese counterpart Bui Thanh Son, and they agree to increase bilateral cooperation. China pledges to provide financial support and 500,000 doses of vaccines to help Vietnam combat COVID-19. They agree to ease border and customs procedures on agricultural goods.
: Chinese and Philippine officials continue to spar over the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. Chinese officials demand that the Philippines remove the BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated tank landing ship grounded in 1999 in the shoal that serves as a garrison for Philippines’ troops. Philippines’ Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana maintains that there is no such commitment to remove the ship and reiterates the Philippines’ sovereignty.
: Chinese President Xi Jinping meets regional counterparts in a virtual summit marking the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations. They agree to upgrade the relationship to one of “comprehensive strategic partnership.” Xi assures Southeast Asian leaders that China stands with them and would not seek hegemony. He also pledges additional COVID-19 vaccines to the region and an additional $5 million to ASEAN’s pandemic response fund.
: Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. issues a diplomatic protest to China’s ambassador to the Philippines over the presence and activities of three Chinese coast guard vessels in the Second Thomas Shoal. The Chinese ships sprayed water cannons and blocked the Philippine forces’ resupply mission to a Marine outpost stationed in the Philippine-claimed and -occupied shoal.
: Regional leaders meet virtually to convene the 24th ASEAN-China Summit. Their joint statement focuses on deepening public health cooperation to help recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, including the training of health professionals for emergency responses, supporting the COVID-19 ASEAN response fund, and vaccine supply. Regional leaders also agree to the early implementation of the RCEP Agreement, set to launch in 2022.
: Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry summons China’s ambassador to lodge a diplomatic protest against the presence and activities of Chinese survey ships in Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone off the coast of Labuan island, near Sabah and Sarawak.
: Myanmar’s military government announces that it will supply 40,000 doses of Chinese-made Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines to the Arakan Army, an ethnic armed group in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine.
: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets Cambodian counterpart Prak Sokhonn in Phnom Penh to discuss bilateral ties. They agree to step up cooperation on COVID-19, two-way trade, investment, and setting up a free trade agreement. Under the Belt and Road Initiative, they agree to continue with progress and implementation of the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone and the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway.