Regional Overview

Chronology from Jan 2016 to May 2016

: South Korea and US conduct Key Resolve (Mar. 7-18) and Foal Eagle military exercises, involving more than 300,000 ROK and 15,000 US troops.

: The 22nd China-ASEAN Senior Officials Consultation is held in Singapore. The meeting focuses on advancing China-ASEAN relations and regional cooperation in East Asia. Chinese Foreign Affairs Vice Minister Liu Zhenmin urges ASEAN states to resolve territorial disputes through dialogue and warns of “negative consequences” if the Philippines wins an arbitration case in The Hague.

: Fifth Foreign Ministers Meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) is held in Beijing.

: Chinese FM Wang Yi meets counterparts from Brunei, Cambodia, and Laos. They reach a four-point consensus on the South China Sea, emphasizing that the dispute should be resolved through consultations and negotiations of the claimant states.

: A 92 member supra-party delegation of Diet members’ led by Cabinet Minister Takaichi Sanae visits Yasukuni Shrine.

: Deputy Secretary of State Blinken travels to Hanoi and Jakarta.

: Secretary Carter announces five US aircraft and 200 personnel will remain in the Philippines after the conclusion of Balikatan to support joint patrols in the South China Sea.

: China’s Ministry of National Defense confirms visit of Gen. Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, to artificial islands in the South China Sea.

: China’s Foreign Ministry summons diplomatic representatives of “relevant countries” from the Group of Seven (G7) nations to express its dissatisfaction with the joint statement about the South China Sea issued by G7 foreign ministers at a meeting in Japan.

: Indonesia hosts Komodo 2016 naval exercise near Padang, involving forces from 14 countries.

: G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting is held in Hiroshima.

: US Secretary of State Ashton Carter visits India and the Philippines.

: Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reports that Kim Jong Un has overseen a successful test of a “heavy-lift” engine of a “new-type” of intercontinental ballistic rocket at the Sohae Space Center.

: Vietnam’s National Assembly elects Nguyen Xuan Phuc as prime minister. The Politburo and Central Committee of the Vietnamese Communist Party nominated him for the post in January.

: Chinese FM Wang Yi visits Myanmar to meet counterpart Aung San Suu Kyi.

: Philippines and US conduct Balikatan military exercise at several locations in the Philippines.

: Chinese military aircraft lands on Fiery Cross Reef for an emergency evacuation of three ill Chinese construction workers stationed there.

: Two Japanese destroyers, the JS Ariake and JS Setogiri, and the submarine Oyashio make a port call to Subic Bay.

: Fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit is held in Washington.

: Vietnamese Coast Guard announces the seizure of a Chinese resupply vessel that was allegedly disguised as a fishing boat for trespassing into Vietnamese territorial waters.

: President Obama meets Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Washington to discuss North Korea. He meets separately with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit.

: Malaysia Foreign Ministry summons the China’s ambassador for “clarification” and “to register Malaysia’s concern” over the encroachment of some 100 Chinese fishing boats into Malaysia’s territorial waters in the South China Sea, which were accompanied by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel.

: Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne tells reporters in Kuala Lumpur that Australia will continue sending ships and planes to defend freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

March 29, 2016: Myanmar President Thein Sein lifts a state of emergency in the western state of Rakhine on his last day in office.

March 30, 2016: Htin Kyaw, the first democratically-elected president in more than 50 years, is inaugurated in Myanmar.

: Chinese Coast Guard vessel rams a Chinese fishing boat to pry it free from the Indonesian boat that was towing it.  Indonesian authorities had seized the boat for fishing illegally in Indonesian territory in the Natuna Sea.

: UN Security Council issues a unanimous statement saying that North Korea’s March 17 missile launches “constituted a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.”

: Sixth annual US-Philippines Strategic Dialogue held in Washington with a focus on implementation of the EDCA and modernization of the Philippine Armed Forces.

: North Korea test-fires two medium-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea (Sea of Japan).

: US Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson confirms the US military has seen increased Chinese activity around Scarborough Shoal.

: Cambodia and US militaries conduct seventh annual Angkor Sentinel humanitarian and disaster relief exercise focusing on military engineering, explosive-ordnance disposal, transport, and leadership development.

: China’s chief justice, Zhou Qiang, says China will launch an “international maritime judicial center” to safeguard its territorial claims and protect its maritime rights.

: UN Security Council unanimously adopts UNSC Resolution 2270, the toughest sanctions ever imposed on North Korea, in response to its fourth nuclear test and rocket launch.

: Philippines and Japan sign an agreement allowing the transfer military equipment and technology to Manila in an expansion of their 2015 Memorandum of Defense Cooperation.

: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi states that the Philippines violated Article 4 of the 2002 Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea by resorting to arbitration instead of dialogue and bilateral negotiations.

: China confirms the deployment of fighter jets to Woody Island.

: Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of US Seventh Fleet, urges Australia to carry out naval patrols within 12nm of China’s artificial features in the South China Sea.

: Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) and the Vietnamese Navy conduct a joint exercise off the coast of Danang in central Vietnam.

: President Barack Obama hosts the leaders of the 10 ASEAN countries for a summit at Sunnylands, California.

: South Korea announces the total shutdown of a jointly run industrial park in Kaesong, saying Pyongyang had been using it to fund its nuclear weapons programs.

: US and Thailand cohost the annual Cobra Gold military exercise, focusing on multilateral operations in counterpiracy and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

: North Korea launches a rocket carrying the Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite from its Sohae Satellite Launching Station.

: UN Security Council condemns the North Korean rocket launch.

: Ministers from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) member countries sign the final version of the trade agreement in Auckland, New Zealand.

: US Navy destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur conducts a freedom of navigation (FON) operation in the South China Sea involving “innocent passage” without prior notification within 12nm of Triton Island in the Paracels. China responds with “resolute opposition,” accusing the US of violating Chinese law and undermining regional peace.

: Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou visits Taiping Island (Itu Aba) in the South China Sea. US and Vietnam criticize the visit for adding tension to the disputed waters.

: Japanese Emperor Akihito and his wife Michiko visit the Philippines, marking the 60th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

: Secretary of State John Kerry visits Asia with stops in Laos, Cambodia, and China for “meetings with senior leaders … to discuss a range of global, regional, and bilateral issues, including North Korea.”

: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel visits Singapore to lead the US delegation at the fourth US-Singapore Strategic Partnership.

: Deputy Secretary Blinken and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui co-chair the inter-sessional meeting of the China-US Strategic Security Dialogue in Beijing.

: Vietnam Communist Party Congress is held in Hanoi.

: Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is launched in Beijing.

: Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wins the presidency and an outright legislative majority in Taiwan.

: Special Representative Hwang visits China to meet counterpart Wu Dawei.

: Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to Tokyo, Nay Pyi Taw, Seoul, and Beijing.

: Hwang Joon-kook, South Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, meets US and Japanese counterparts Sung Kim and Ishikane Kimihiro in Seoul for “in-depth talks” on possible responses to the North’s nuclear test.

: Philippine Supreme Court rules that the 2014 US-Philippine Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) is constitutional, allowing implementation of the agreement without ratification by the Philippine Senate.

: US and Philippine defense and foreign affairs secretaries meet in Washington for their annual “2+2” meeting to discuss bilateral security issues.

: A US B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber flies over South Korea in what is described a “major show of force” after North Korean nuclear test.

: South Korea resumes broadcasting information across the DMZ as a response to the Jan. 6 North Korean nuclear test.

: In a phone conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, US Secretary of State John Kerry says that the Chinese approach to dealing with North Korea “has not worked and we cannot continue business as usual.”

: China lands two large civilian aircraft on Fiery Cross Reef, drawing more protests from Vietnam and the Philippines.

: North Korea claims to have successfully conducted a thermonuclear test at its Pungye-ri nuclear test site saying it has “successfully joined the ranks of advanced nuclear states.” Seismic monitoring agencies report a 5.1 magnitude tremor in the vicinity of the site.

: North Korea claims to have successfully conducted a thermonuclear test at its Pungye-ri nuclear test site saying it has “successfully joined the ranks of advanced nuclear states.” Seismic monitoring agencies report a 5.1 magnitude tremor in the vicinity of the site.

: China lands a small civilian aircraft on a recently completed runway on Fiery Cross Reef (Chinese: Yongshu, Philippines: Kagitingan, Vietnam: Da Chu Thap). Vietnam, Philippines, and Japan protest the action, accusing China of destabilizing the region.

Date Range