Regional Overview

Chronology from Jan 2020 to May 2020

: South Korea and China agree to start some business travel under a “fast-track” immigration arrangement.

: US Department of Commerce announces new rules to tighten exports of certain sensitive technologies to China.

: US Department of Defense authorizes release of three videos of unidentified aerial phenomena to “clear up any misconceptions,” about videos already circulating.

: Australian government launches coronavirus tracing app, using Bluetooth to log when people are close to each other, enabling health officials to trace people potentially exposed to the illness.

: G20 health ministers online meeting; draft statement “scuppered” by US over positive references to WHO.

: China’s space agency names its first Mars exploration mission Tianwen-1, which is expected to be launched this year.

: Virtual US-ASEAN ministerial meeting is conducted, but the joint statement is reportedly delayed by disagreement over reference to China’s handling of the pandemic.

: Trump announces 60-day suspension of immigration into the US, to ensure US workers are first to get jobs.

: Australian frigate HMAS Parramatta joins three US warships in the South China Sea near an area Chinese vessels are suspected of exploring for oil.

: Daily NK, a Seoul-based online journal run by activists and defectors with sources inside North Korea, alleges that Kim Jong Un is recovering from a medical procedure, setting off international speculation about the North Korean leader’s well-being.

: Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne calls for independent inquiry into the coronavirus outbreak and how it developed and spread.

: UN report finds that North Korea evaded international sanction and has raised millions of dollars through hacking and smuggling.

: USAF ends 16-year Continuous Bomber Presence on Guam.

: G7 leaders call for a review and reform of the World Health Organization.

: North Korean defector Thae Yong-ho, running with the conservative opposition party, wins a South Korean National Assembly seat despite a ruling party landslide.

: US State Department report speculates that China secretly set off low-level underground nuclear test explosions.

: North Korea celebrates the Day of the Sun, national founder Kim Il Sung’s birth anniversary. Kim Jong Un does not attend.

: North Korea test-fires short-range cruise missiles.

: ASEAN and ASEAN Plus Three Summit on the COVID-19 coronavirus are conducted via video conference.

: Trump announces the US will halt funding to the WHO while investigating its mismanagement of the coronavirus response.

: Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs expresses solidarity with Vietnam after protests over the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat by China in the disputed South China Sea.

: Abe approves an economic stimulus package worth about $1 trillion and plans direct payments to households and businesses in coronavirus emergency.

: China is appointed to a panel on the UN Human Rights Council, serving as representative of Asia-Pacific states.

: Vietnam protests China’s of sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

: North Korea launches two short-range ballistic missiles.

: Trump signs the TAIPEI (Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative) Act into law.

: G7 virtual ministerial meeting fails to issue a joint communique, reportedly over Pompeo’s insistence on including reference to the “Wuhan virus.”

: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper signs order freezing the movement of US military personnel for 60 days over concerns from the coronavirus pandemic.

: G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is held via video conference call, attended by the US, Italy, France, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

: Abe and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach agree to reschedule the Olympics for the summer of 2021 at the latest.

: Modi orders nationwide lockdown in India, including a shutdown of all nonessential government offices and private businesses, and for all Indians to remain at home.

: South Korea’s armed forces track two North Korean short-range ballistic missiles launched into the Sea of Japan.

: Indonesian and Malaysian foreign ministers discuss virtual cooperation and collaboration amid COVID-19 pandemic.

: North Korea test-fires two short-range ballistic missiles.

: Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces that it will revoke press credentials of Americans working for The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

: China reports zero new local infections of COVID-19.

: China and Cambodia participate in third annual Golden Dragon exercise in Cambodia’s Kampot province, focusing on counter-terrorism and humanitarianism.

: Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Lijian Zhao implies on Twitter that US military brought coronavirus to Wuhan.

: WHO officially labels COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

: Trump announces measures to tackle COVID-19, including by suspending most travel from Europe.

: North Korea launches three short-range projectiles.

: US defense contractor Lockheed Martin temporarily suspends production of fifth-generation Lightning II F-35Astealth fighter aircraft at a facility in Nagoya over coronavirus concerns.

: President Trump and the US skip the virtual vaccine summit hosted by EU.

: Chinese research scientists allege that their research shows the new coronavirus evolved into two strains.

: US imposes restrictions on the number of Chinese state-owned media employees allowed to work in the US.

: North Korea fires what appears to be two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea. China’s foreign ministry calls for dialogue.

: US Department of Justice announces charges against two Chinese nationals for money laundering conspiracy and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. The defendants, Tian Yinyin and Li Jiadong, allegedly laundering “more than $100 million in cryptocurrency that had been stolen by ‘North Korean actors.’”

: South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff reports that North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan.

: Malaysia names Muhyiddin Yassin prime minister.

: US elevates warnings against travel to regions in Italy and South Korea.

: US and South Korea decide to postpone joint military exercises over coronavirus concerns.

: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden meets Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sydney, where she criticizes Australia’s policy of forcible deportations of New Zealand citizens.

: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama in Suva, Fiji.

: Indonesian House of Representative commission on defense, intelligence, and foreign affairs approves previous defense arrangements between Indonesia and the United States, including “a plan for the navy to receive up to 14 ScanEagleunmanned aerial vehicles and upgrades for three Bell 412 helicopters from the U.S. government.”

: US Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that South Korea should contribute more financially to its own defense.

: Thailand, the US, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Korea participate in Exercise Cobra Gold 2020. Cobra Gold focuses on “humanitarian civic action, a cyber exercise, an amphibious assault exercise, a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise, culminating in the combined arms live fire exercise.”

: Malaysia’s king installs Mahathir Mohamad as interim prime minister following his shock resignation.

: President Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet in Ahmedabad, India.

: Researchers from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Garden, led by Dr. Yu Webin publish research suggesting that the coronavirus was introduced from outside the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, but then spread rapidly within it.

: Malaysia declares that it will choose a 5G partner based on the country’s own security standards amid strong pushes from the US to exclude Huawei.

: South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to discuss cooperative measures to combat COVID-19, as well as the potential delay of Xi’s planned Seoul.

: UN experts accuse North Korea of increasing imports and exports of banned and restricted good such as coal and petroleum products despite explicit sanctions.

: US and Europe reach a general agreement on confronting China.

: South Korean and Canadian Foreign Ministers agree on efforts to expand bilateral economic cooperation and bolster exchanges of high-level officials at Munich Security Conference.

: Director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Zhang Xiaoming is replaced by Xia Baolong, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

: Japan reports its first death related to coronavirus.

: Philippines declares intent to terminate major security pact that has allowed US forces to train in the country.

: WHO proposes “COVID-19” as official name for the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

: Chinese PLA Air Force flies into Bashi Channel during exercise, prompting a Taiwanese response.

: South Korea and the US hold working group meeting in Seoul spotlighting issues of policy coordination on inter-Korean exchanges between North and South Korea.

: Thailand bars passengers from Holand America’s MS Westerdam cruise ship from disembarking, amid fears of the coronavirus.

: US State Department official involved in nuclear talks with North Korea arrives in South Korea for a meeting of a bilateral policy coordination working group on the regime.

: South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul reaffirms the need for inter-Korean cooperation in railways, roads, and tourism, as South Korea seeks to expand cross-border exchanges as part of efforts to continue its engagement with North Korea.

: The coronavirus death toll in China climbs above 1,000.

: Hong Kong imposes a mandatory two-week quarantine on all arrivals from mainland China, including daily phone calls and spot checks.

: UN Security Council panel approves sanctions exemptions to three aid agencies allowing humanitarian assistance to North Korea.

: Coronavirus allegedly kills Li Wenliang, who had been reproached by Wuhan police for “spreading rumors” about the coronavirus.

: Philippine foreign secretary warns that abrogating the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US would threaten crucial security, trade, and economic interests.

: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visits Beijing, making a public vote of confidence in China’s ability to control the coronavirus epidemic.

: A Chinese field hospital, built in under two weeks, opens to coronavirus patients in Wuhan.

: Japan’s Ministry of Defense confirms plans to procure new standoff missiles.

: Investigators from the International Criminal Court begin collecting evidence involving alleged crimes against humanity by Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims.

: Brunei carries out military exercise in a rare display of how the state thinks about and acts with respect to its own defense.

: US and Japan conclude 2020 Iteration of Exercise Forest Light Western Army.

: Commissioning of three vessels marks quick completion and operationalization of the program for Singapore’s Navy.

: Japan quarantines Yokohama-bound cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, after a man who sailed on it tested positive for coronavirus.

: China reports a total of 11,821 cases (cases reported includes Hong Kong, Macau, and Taipei) and 259 deaths. Worldwide, 132 cases of coronavirus were reported outside China in 23 other countries.

: Hong Kong government announces that a passenger on the Diamond Princess who disembarked on January 25 has tested positive for COVID-19.

: Trump administration announces travel restrictions, barring entry by foreign nationals who recently visited China.

: Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan makes a working visit to Malaysia, meeting with a variety of ministers on bilateral issues.

: China’s new ambassador pledges efforts for “great” development of South Korea-China ties.

: North Korea and South Korea close Joint Liaison Office in Kaesong over concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

: WHO declares the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency and a significant threat beyond China.

: US State Department issues advisory to Americans to not travel to China because of the public health threat posed by coronavirus.

: US military begins issuing furlough warnings to almost 9,000 civilian South Korean employees as cost-sharing negotiations remain at an impasse.

: Democratic US senators urge administration officials to reconsider demands in defense talks with South Korea, highlighting the risks of failing to reach an agreement.

: South Korea sends $1 million in aid and a government delegation to help Australia recover from bushfires.

: USS Montgomery conducts first 2020 FONOP in South China Sea.

: WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus meets Xi Jinping to share latest information on the novel coronavirus outbreak.

: US Department of State confirms efforts to extricate diplomats from virus-hit city of Wuhan.

: Malaysian watchdog files a lawsuit against Singapore home minister after it is accused of violating Singapore’s fake news law.

: US confirms second case of coronavirus involving a Chicago women returning from Wuhan.

: UN’s International Court of Justice orders Myanmar to prevent Rohingya Genocide.

: Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte renews threat to terminate accord that allows US forces to train in country unless Washington restores the visa of a political ally linked to human rights violations.

: Wuhan officials announce a complete travel ban on residents, suspending urban buses, subways, ferries, and long-distance passenger transport in the city.

: ASEAN Secretariat invites India to attend a February 2020 RCEP meeting in Bali.

: WHO issues a statement suggesting human-to-human transmission of 2019-nCoV is taking place in Wuhan.

: Foreign tour agencies report that North Korea has closed its borders with China.

: United States confirms its first case of COVID-19.

: China’s new envoy to ASEAN arrives in Jakarta as tensions rise over Chinese conduct in South China Sea.

: ASEAN foreign ministers agree to hold summit with Trump.

: Vietnam chairs ASEAN-IPR meeting in Jakarta.

: US confirms the first patient diagnosed with the new coronavirus in Washington state.

: Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy begins a two-day introductory visit to Singapore to meet the Singaporean Minister for Defense.

: First case of the “Wuhan coronavirus” is reported in the US. A traveler from China in Seattle is identified as the first case in the US. South Korea also reports its first case.

: WHO issues its first situation report on the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). As of Jan. 20, there were 282 confirmed cases from four countries including China, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.

: Singapore Ministry of Health announces that temperature screenings at Changi Airport will be extended to all travelers arriving from China.

: Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo pledges to bolster Japan’s role under its security pact with the U.S. in “outer space and cyber space.”

: Xi Jinping visits Myanmar for his first overseas visit of 2020. Xi and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi sign 33 agreements related to infrastructure development, trade, manufacturing, and special economic zones.

: Vietnam’s largest telecommunications company, Viettel, announces it would move forward with development of domestic 5G technology.

: Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng meets Vietnamese Minister of Public Security To Lam, and signs a cooperation plan for 2020.

: The US begins additional screening procedures for passengers from Wuhan at three airports- San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles.

: Japan confirms its first case of the new coronavirus.

: “Phase 1” United States-China trade deal is officially signed in a White House ceremony featuring President Trump and Vice Premier Liu He.

: Thailand Army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong visits Indonesia Army chief Gen. Andika Perkasa in Aech, Indonesia. They extend their security cooperation and sign an intelligence pact.

: The United States and Japan conduct a one-day naval exercise in the East China Sea.

: Japan’s Defense Minister Kono Taro visits the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

: WHO works with officials in Thailand and China following reports of a confirmed novel coronavirus case outside of China, in Thailand.

: China shares the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus with the WHO.

: A 61-year-old man dies from pneumonia in Wuhan and is cited as “the first victim of the outbreak that began in December.”

: US Department of State approves the possible sale of 12 F-35Bs to Singapore. The sale is subject to congressional approval.

: Hong Kong requests that China provide genetic information on the “mystery virus” behind the Wuhan outbreak, after Chinese authorities identified the disease to be of a new coronavirus strain.

: Chinese researchers identify a new virus as the pathogen behind the outbreak of a pneumonia-like illness in Wuhan as a new coronavirus.

: US Embassy in China warns Americans in China to avoid animals and contact with sick people.

: Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh meet in Hanoi. Motegi and Minh discuss the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation and the rule of law in the South China Sea, and agree to coordinate Japan’s push for a free and open Indo-Pacific with ASEAN’s efforts to promote stable growth.

: Chinese health authorities report 59 cases of an unknown viral pneumonia that is not SARS, MERS, or bird flu.

: WHO publishes its first Disease Outbreak News on the new unknown virus in Wuhan.

: Myanmar and Bangladesh hold a senior-level border conference, putting the spotlight on efforts to manage strained security ties.

: Malaysia officially confirms that it will reopen its embassy in North Korea.

: Wuhan police bureau issues letter to Dr. Li Wenliang to stop illegal behavior, alleging he spread “illegal and false” information and “severely disrupted social order,” by telling a group of doctors on the messaging platform WeChat that seven cases of SARS had been confirmed linked to a seafood market in Wuhan.

: Chinese health authorities report that they are trying to identify what is causing an outbreak in Wuhan, as the number of cases rose to 44 and rumors on social media suggested the outbreak could be linked to SARS.

: Singapore’s Ministry of Health takes precautionary measures, warning medical practitioners to look out for suspected cases of pneumonia related to travel from Wuhan. Temperature screenings are implemented at Changi Airport for all travelers arriving from Wuhan.

: Helicopter crash in Yilan, Taiwan kills Taiwanese Gen. Shen Yi-ming.

Date Range