China - Southeast Asia

Chronology from Sep 2022 to Dec 2022

: President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announces that he will visit China in early January 2023 amid tension and disputes in the South China Sea. The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs announces that during the visit, both sides will sign an agreement to open direct communication lines and avoid tensions and accidents in the South China Sea.

: Philippines lodges formal complaints against and criticisms of China’s latest incursions in the South China Sea, during which Chinese vessels entered disputed waters around the Iroquois Reef and Sabina Shoal in early December, just weeks after an encounter between the Philippine Navy and the Chinese Coast Guard.

: A senior Philippine foreign affairs official shares that ASEAN member states and China are negotiating the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea “very seriously, very delicately,” with the conclusion of the second reading of the document in sight. Noel Novicio, Philippines’ Deputy Assistant Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Executive Director for ASEAN Affairs, cautions that in spite of the progress, the final text and substantive aspects of the Code of Conduct remain far from being finalized.

: Laotian President Thongloun Sisoulith visits Beijing and meets his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. The two heads of state agree to deepen bilateral ties in the areas of law enforcement, and defence cooperation, as well as economic, trade, and investment exchanges.

: Malaysia’s new prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, says he will continue to maintain stable ties with China as he seeks to emphasize economic engagement, while avoiding confrontation on contentious issues. When asked to comment on how his government will manage foreign policy issues, Anwar indicates that he would continue to pursue positive and pragmatic ties with the United States and China.

: 9th ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) convenes in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where regional defense chiefs adopt a joint declaration to promote peace and security in the region. The declaration reaffirms the ADMM-Plus countries’ commitment to promoting regional stability by reinforcing strategic trust and mutual confidence.

: Philippine Navy rubber boats and Chinese Coast Guard inflatable boats engage in an encounter concerning rocket debris that the Philippine Navy found floating off the coast of Thitu Island in the Spratlys. The Chinese Coast Guard crew members were seen cutting the towing line the Philippine Navy officers had placed to retrieve the rocket debris.

: President Xi arrives in Bali and holds talks with Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo. They agree to expand infrastructure and maritime cooperation and deepen “strategic coordination” in regional affairs, especially with regard to building synergy between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Indonesia’s Global Maritime Fulcrum, Jakarta’s vision to turn the country into a global maritime hub. Xi is in Bali to attend the Group of 20 summit, meeting other world leaders, including US President Joe Biden.

: Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs clarifies that China’s aid to expand and upgrade Cambodia’s Ream Naval base reflects a “normal activity of providing assistance,” and refutes media reports that the activities are targeted at any third party.

: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits Cambodia for a six-day visit and delivers a development assistance package of nearly $30 million while signing 18 agreements on bilateral aid and cooperation on agriculture trade, infrastructure development, public health, and education projects. Following his state visit to Cambodia, Li will stay on for a series of ASEAN meetings with regional leaders.

: Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng visits Singapore for the 18th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation. The two sides sign 19 memorandums of understanding and agreements on issues ranging from public health, tourism exchanges, green financing and development, e-commerce, and innovation cooperation. China and Singapore also agree to speed up negotiations on the China-Singapore free trade agreement and move forward on implementing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world’s largest trade agreement that went into effect in 2022.

: Chinese President Xi Jinping hosts Vietnamese leader and General Secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong. During their summit, both leaders pledge to expand security and economic partnership, including focusing on building a “stable industrial chain and supply chain system.” Other highlights of the talks include an agreement to “properly manage” differences and maintain regional stability in the South China Sea.

: The 19th China-ASEAN Expo convenes in Nanning, Guangxi, in China. The four-day trade expo seeks to promote regional business and economic cooperation between China and ASEAN. More than 1,000 companies and enterprises from around the region registered to take part in the annual trade fair.

: China and Thailand conclude “Exercise Falcon Strike,” an 11-day joint air force exercise in northeast Thailand. The drill focuses on deepening practical cooperation and involves deployment of some of China’s latest air force assets, including a JH-7AI fighter-bomber, six J-10 fighter jets, and KJ-500 airborne early warning aircraft. The timing of the exercise coincided with another regional military drill, “Super Garuda Shield,” hosted by the United States and Indonesia and involves a dozen other countries including Japan, Australia, and Singapore.

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