Regional Overview

Chronology from Jan 2017 to May 2017

: Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc visits the US and meets President Trump, first Southeast Asian leader to visit Washington during Trump administration.

: US Navy destroyer, USS Dewey, sails within 12 nm of Mischief Reef in the Spratley Islands, the first US freedom of navigation operation in the region since October 2016.

: Philippine President Duterte visits Russia and meets President Vladimir Putin. Duterte cuts his trip short after declaring martial law in Mindanao following a skirmish between the military and members of the Maute Group, a terrorist group affiliated with the Islamic State.

: UNSC condemns North Korea’s latest missile test and directs its sanctions committee to redouble its efforts to implement existing sanctions.

: North Korea launches an intermediate-range missile (Pukguksong-2, also known as KN-15) 500 km into the East Sea (Sea of Japan). KCNA claims the test demonstrates accuracy of the missile’s guidance system and confirms the capacity of the rocket’s propulsion system.

: US, ROK, and Japan call for an emergency session of the UN Security Council to discuss the latest missile launch by North Korea.

: On the sidelines of APEC meetings in Hanoi, the remaining 11 countries of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agree to pursue the trade agreement without the US. The APEC forum fails to issue a consensus statement when the US refuses wording agreed by the other 20 APEC countries that supported free trade and opposed protectionism.

: The 14th meeting of senior officials from China and ASEAN on implementation of a code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea is held in Guiyan, China. Participants agree on a draft COC, which will be submitted to the foreign ministers for consideration.

: North Korea conducts a test of what KCNA identifies as a Hwasong-12 missile and describes as a “medium long-range missile that “can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.”

: China hosts delegates from 138 countries for Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, including: Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Laotian President Bounnhang Vorachith, and Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.

: In Beijing for the Belt and Road Forum, Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang meets President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People. They have “positive” talks, “without any criticism of each other” on the South China Sea.

: Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama is found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to two years in prison following a trial seen as a test of Indonesia’s religious tolerance.

: US and Philippines conduct 33rd iteration of Balikatan military exercises, with special focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) and counter-terrorism operations, in multiple locations in the Philippines.

: North Korea accuses the US CIA and South Korea’s intelligence service of a plot to attack its “supreme leadership” with a biochemical weapon.

: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets foreign minister of 10 ASEAN countries in Washington and urges them to do more to help cut funding streams for North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and to minimize diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

: China calls for immediate dismantlement of the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea.

: US Forces Korea announces that the recently deployed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system has achieved initial operational capability.

: Three Chinese Navy ships make a port call visit in Davao, marking the first such visit to the Philippines since 2010.

: CIA Director Mike Pompeo makes unannounced visit to South Korea and meets counterpart in South Korea’s National Intelligence Service and other senior South Korean and US officials.

: North Korea conducts a medium-range missile test. The rocket explodes shortly after launch.

: Chairing a special ministerial session of the UN Security Council, Secretary of State Tillerson proposes that UN member states should fully implement UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea suspend or downgrading diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, and take steps to deepen the Norths financial isolation.

: Prime Minister Abe visits Moscow and meets President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian officials.

: During an interview with Reuters, President Trump states that South Korea owes $1 billion for deployment of the THAAD missile defense system currently being operationalized in South Korea and that the US intends to renegotiate the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement.

: The 30th ASEAN Summit and related meetings are held in Manila.

: US Navy conducts separate exercises with MSDF and South Korean Navy in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

: USS Carl Vinson and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) destroyers conduct joint exercises south of Japan in the Philippine Sea.

: Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein visits Beijing and meets Defense Minister Gen. Chang Wanquan and other senior leaders.

: UN Security Council adopts a press statement strongly condemning North Korea’s latest missile launch.

: Former Indonesian Education Minister Anies Baswedan is elected mayor of Jakarta.

: Department of Defense announces that the USS Carl Vinson carrier battle group is in the Indian Ocean conducting exercises with the Australian Navy.

: Vice President Mike Pence visits the Asia-Pacific region, making stops in South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, and Hawaii.

: North Korea celebrates Kim Il Sung’s birthday with a massive military parade that features several long-range ballistic missiles. Later in the day, it attempts to test a missile, which explodes almost immediately after launch.

: Presidents Xi and Trump speak by telephone as a follow up to the recent summit in Florida.

: Wu Dawei, Chinese envoy for Korean affairs, meets South Korean counterpart Kim Hong-kyun in Seoul. They agree that China and South Korea would impose tougher sanctions on North Korea if it carries out nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile tests.

: North Korea’s Foreign Ministry issues statement that the recent US attack on Syria was “absolutely unpardonable as it was an undisguised act of aggression against a sovereign state.”

: Department of Defense announces that the US Navy strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier will be dispatched to the Korean Peninsula for an unscheduled visit.

: President Trump hosts Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

: US, ROK, and Japan conduct first trilateral anti-submarine warfare exercise off the coast of South Korea.

: Malaysia and North Korea reach agreement to release the body of Kim Jong Nam and two North Koreans suspected of involvement in Kim assassination in exchange for the release of nine Malaysian citizens that had been prevented from leaving Pyongyang.

: Okinawa Gov. Onaga Takeshi retracts his predecessor’s approval of the central government’s land reclamation project at the site of the Futenma replacement facility at Henoko, which results in a temporary halt to land reclamation efforts.

: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang states that defense equipment placed on China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea are there to maintain “freedom of navigation.”

: UN Security Council denounces North Korea’s recent missile test and ballistic missile engine test as “increasingly destabilizing behavior.”

: China’s Foreign Ministry denies reports that it is about to start preparatory work this year for an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal claiming that China “place[s] great importance on China-Philippines relations.”

: Sansha City mayor claims that China is preparing to install environmental monitoring station on land features in the South China, including one on Scarborough Shoal.

: Secretary of State Tillerson makes his first official visit to Asia with stops in Japan, South Korea, and China.

: South Korea, Japan, and the United States conduct a missile warning exercise to enhance trilateral cooperation in detecting and tracing North Korean missiles.

: Combined forces of South Korea and the US conduct the annual command post exercise Key Resolve in South Korea.

: South Korea’s Constitutional Court upholds National Assembly’s impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

: North Korea fires four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan (East Sea); three of them land in Japan’s Economic Exclusive Zone.

: Report of the Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1874 is released. The details provided in the report suggest that UN sanctions against the DPRK remain largely ineffective.

: Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre accompany US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim on a visit to the USS Carl Vinson in the South China Sea.

: US-ROK Foal Eagle military field exercise is held in South Korea.

: US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun meets Japanese and South Korean counterparts, Kenji Kanasugi and Kim Hong-kyun, in Washington to discuss ways to cooperate more closely on North Korea.

: Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi visits Washington and meets President Trump, Vice President Pence, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, Secretary of State Tillerson, and other senior officials.

: Malaysian police report that a toxicology evaluation of the substance rubbed on Kim Jong Nam’s face contained VX nerve agent.

: ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat is held in Boracay, Philippines.

: China’s Ministry of Commerce announces that, as of Feb. 12, it will ban all coal imports from North Korea in 2017.

: Meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bonn, Germany, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se agree to closely coordinate their response to the recent North Korean missile test.

: Kim Jong Nam, the older brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, dies after being poisoned by assassins at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

: Thailand and the US co-host the Cobra Gold military exercises in various areas throughout Thailand. It is the largest multilateral exercise in Asia involving 29 participant and observer countries.

: North Korea successfully test-fires a new type of medium- to long-range ballistic missile named Pukguksong-2, which KCNA described as a new type of strategic weapon capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

: Prime Minister Abe visits the US and meets President Trump. They agree that the friendship between the US and Japan is “very, very deep” and that “an alliance between the two countries is a cornerstone of peace in the East Asian region.”

: Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping talk by phone. Both sides characterize the conversation as “extremely cordial” and Trump confirms his administration will adhere to the “one-China policy.”

: Hong Kong Customs releases and returns all nine armored Terrex vehicles to Singapore that had been impounded in Hong Kong during transit following their involvement in an annual military exercise between Singapore and Taiwan.

: US Defense Secretary James Mattis visits Asia on his first overseas trip since taking office with stops in South Korea and Japan.

: US releases its latest Nuclear Posture Review, which declares a need for modified nuclear warheads of lower yield and a new, nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile. It also argues for more “flexible” options to meet possible threats from resurgent Russia and China and that these supplemental and “tailored” options will enhance deterrence.

: Philippines announces that China has agreed to fund 30 projects worth $3.7 billion to help Philippine poverty alleviation programs.

: United States formally withdraws from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

: US, Japan, and South Korea conduct a naval missile defense exercise off the coast of South Korea.

: Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo visit the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide says, “This trip will further strengthen [Japan’s] cooperative relations with each country as well as emphasizing the importance of building coordination with countries in the Asia-Pacific for a free and open world order based on the rule of law.”

: General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong visits Beijing and meets Premier Li Keqiang. In a joint communiqué, the two countries agree to “manage well their maritime difference, avoid actions that complicate the situation and escalate tensions, and safeguard the peace and stability of the South China Sea.”

: China’s State Council Information Office issues white paper on China’s Policies on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation.

: China deploys aircraft carrier Liaoning and associated battle group in the Taiwan Strait for the first time.

: South Korean National Security Advisor Kim Kwan-jin visits Washington and meets incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. They reaffirm plans to deploy the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea despite China’s growing protest.

: Trade ministers from Japan, South Korea, and China meet in Beijing for a round of talks aimed at finalizing a trilateral free trade agreement.

: South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam, Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Sugiyama Shinsuke, and US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken meet in Washington to discuss trilateral cooperation to counter North Korean threats.

: Two Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Escort Division destroyers, JS Inazuma and JS Suzutsuki, make a port call at Subic Bay en route to Japan after conducting counter-piracy operations at the Gulf of Aden.

: Russian Navy anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Tributs and fleet oiler Boris Botuma make a goodwill port visit in Manila.

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