Regional Overview

Chronology from Jan 2021 to May 2021

: State Department calls for Taiwan to be allowed to participate in the upcoming World Health Assembly.

: United Nations Development Program issues a report warning that turmoil and violence in Myanmar has doubled the number of people in poverty, and could force half the population into poverty by early 2022, if the situation continues unchecked. Since the coup, 11% of the population has been pushed into poverty.

: Reports of the Biden administration’s completed policy review on North Korea circulate, indicating a new path on addressing North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Few details are revealed, however.

: At the Indo-Pacific Command Change of Command, Secretary of Defense Austin, chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley and both the incoming and outgoing commanders cite the Indo-Pacific as “the priority region” for US national security interests.

: Taiwan commissions the first of a fleet of coast guard ships that can be converted into warships to bolster the defense of Taipei-controlled islands in the South China Sea.

: In a speech to a joint session of Congress, Biden states that the US is in competition with China “to win the 21st century.”

: Britain’s Royal Navy announces it will send a strike group, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, to the Indo-Pacific next week, as it seeks to expand its presence in the region.

: A Morning Consult poll shows the US’ favorability ratings to be up in 13 out of 14 countries since Biden’s inauguration, with China the lone exception.

: Japan’s 2021 edition of its annual Diplomatic Bluebook highlights ‘strong concerns’ regarding China’s military expansion.

: Myanmar’s junta releases a statement that it will consider ASEAN’s “suggestions” in Jakarta after “stabilizing the country.”

: Following Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton’s remark that conflict with China over Taiwan could not be “discounted,” Beijing releases a statement imploring Australia to recognize the “one-China principle.”

: At a defense and security consultation, Chinese and Vietnamese officials agree to work together to improve trust amid regional tensions regarding their territorial claims in the South China Sea.

: ASEAN leaders gather in Jakarta in the first physical summit to try to bring an end to the violence and instability in Myanmar following the Feb. 1 military coup. The Chairman’s Statement include a “Five-Point Consensus” to resolve the conflict, including “immediate cessation” of violence.

: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says that Min Aung Hlaing, commander of Myanmar’s armed forces, told ASEAN leaders that he agreed that violence in his country must stop.

: Suga declares a third state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

: Chinese embassy in London condemns the British parliament for passing a motion declaring that Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang region “are suffering crimes against humanity and genocide.”

: A North Korean defector group plans to send thousands of leaflets to North Korea, despite a recently enacted ban on leafleting.

: Xi Jinping delivers remarks at the US-led Leaders Summit on Climate.

: Beijing says that it will “respond firmly and forcefully” if Canberra refuses to reverse its decision to cancel two deals agreed between China and the Australian state of Victoria.

: Biden nominates Ely Ratner for Assistant Secretary of Defense, Indo-Pacific Security Affairs.

: US Senate Foreign Relations Committee passes the Strategic Competition Act.

: President Moon urges the United States to restart dialogue with North Korea at an early date during an interview with The New York Times.

: Chinese Foreign Ministry confirms that President Xi will attend the US-hosted Earth Day climate change summit.

: Seoul Central District Court rejects a compensation claim against the Japanese government by 20 individuals including survivors of wartime sex slavery, citing sovereign immunity.

: Philippine President Rodrigo Duturte says that he is prepared to send military ships in the South China Sea to stake a claim over oil and mineral resources in the disputed section of the strategic waterway.

: China’s People’s Liberation Army reportedly deploys an advanced long-range rocket launcher to the Himalayas, in a move to reinforce China’s border defense and act as a deterrent to India.

: In a joint statement following Special Envoy Kerry’s visit to Shanghai, Washington and Beijing express their commitment to working together to uphold the Paris Agreement on climate change.

: In a joint statement after a meeting, President Biden and Prime Minister Suga call for “peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and reaffirm their commitment to countering China’s “intimidation” in the East and South China seas.

: US Climate Envoy John Kerry and China Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua issue a joint statement addressing the Climate Crisis.

: US Treasury Department determines that Vietnam has tripped the threshold for currency manipulation but does not formally declare Hanoi a currency manipulator.

: Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister, Wu Jianghao, summons Japanese ambassador Hideo Tarumi over Tokyo’s controversial decision to release more than 1 million tons of treated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean.

: General Bipin Rawat, the Chief of Defence Staff of the Indian Army says that China tried to wage an “undeclared war” against India through cyberattacks.

: Former US Senator Chris Dodd and Deputy Secretaries of State Richard Armitage and James Steinberg travel to Taiwan at Joe Biden’s request, in a “personal signal” of the president’s commitment to the Chinese-claimed island.

: An annual report by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence lists China at the top of its national security threats, warning of Beijing’s efforts to realize “an epochal geopolitical shift.”

: According to Taiwan’s Defence Ministry, China’s People’s Liberation Army flew 25 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), its largest incursion yet as tension in the Taiwan Strait continues to escalate.

: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang holds virtual dialogue with board chairmen and CEOs from the US-China Business Council and over 20 US multinational companies.

: Philippines armed forces begin two week joint exercises with hundreds of US soldiers amid growing tensions with Beijing in the South China Sea.

: Blinken blames China’s failure to provide access to global health experts for making the COVID-19 pandemic worse than it had to be.

: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian expresses Beijing’s “deep concerns” with Japan over its planned disposal of treated radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry likewise expresses “grave concerns” over Japan’s decision.

: Local media reports in Myanmar state that at least 82 people were killed in one day in a crackdown by Myanmar security forces on pro-democracy protesters.

: Myanmar’s ruling military junta announce that 19 people have been sentenced to death for killing an associate of an army captain and that anti-coup protests are dwindling.

: Indo-Pacific Command moves the US carrier strike group USS Theodore Roosevelt and the amphibious ready group USS Makin Island into the South China Sea, partly in response to the presence of Chinese vessels off Whitsun Reef, a perceived threat against the maritime security of the Philippines.

: Iran releases a South Korean-flagged tanker that it seized amid a dispute over billions in frozen oil funds.

: US issues new contact guidance for US government interactions with Taiwan counterparts, though the details remain classified.

: US sends the USS Makin Island amphibious-ready group (ARG) to the disputed water of the South China Sea, bolstering Washington’s presence amid heightened tensions between Manila and Beijing regarding the presence of Chinese fishing vessels in Whitsun Reef.

: State Department spokesman Ned Price acknowledges that the Biden administration is considering a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

: China’s Foreign Ministry requests Manila to “stop hyping up” the fleet of Chinese vessels moored in Whitsun Reef in the disputed South China Sea.

: A report on North Korean Sports Ministry website DPRK Korea states that the North Korean Olympic Committee “decided not to participate in the 32nd Olympic Games in order to protect players from the world public health crisis caused by COVID-19,” dealing a blow to both South Korean and Japanese hopes for a diplomatic breakthrough with the North at the Games.

: South Korea’s Defense Ministry rejects Japan’s renewed territorial claims over the country’s easternmost islets of Dokdo, saying Seoul does not even have to repeat explanations on the matter.

: Japan sends its naval destroyer JS Suzutsuki to “gather information and monitor the movements” of China’s carrier group, which was spotted passing the waterway between Okinawa and Miyako Island.

: Australia’s newly appointed Defense Minister Peter Dutton expresses his intention to work closely with the US and other allies in maintaining peace in the region.

: In a joint statement after a day of talks, representatives from the United States, South Korea, and Japan agree to work together to maintain pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

: Ten of Myanmar’s major rebel groups express their support for the country’s anti-coup activists.

: Myanmar anti-coup protests hold candle-lit protests and urge “guerilla strike” tactics, as internet blackout widens.

: Philippine military says that it has documented illegal man-made structures on Union Banks in the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands, near areas where hundreds of Chinese vessels massed last month.

: US Department of State releases 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights, within which China’s humanitarian practices in Xinjiang are classified as “[g]enocide and crimes against humanity.”

: US Acting Assistant Secretary of State Lisa Peterson says the US will hold North Korea accountable for its “egregious” human rights violations.

: Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu announces that Tokyo will halt any new aid in Myanmar in response to the coup orchestrated by the military junta.

: sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un criticizes South Korean President Moon Jae-in for his speech, mocking him as a “parrot” that repeats the United States’ “gangster-like logic.”

: Xi urges Sri Lanka to continue work with Beijing to develop the controversial Hambantota port, which sits along the main waterways of Asia and Europe.

: In her first week in office, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai says that a trade meeting between China and the United States will take place “when the time is right.”

: United States suspends its trade pact with Myanmar in response to the military junta’s killing of over 100 democracy protesters over the weekend.

: Blinken says China’s retaliatory sanctions in the growing dispute of Beijing’s treatment of Uyghurs are “baseless” and would only draw further attention to the “genocide” in Xinjiang.

: China announces sanctions on US and Canadian individuals and entities in retaliation for imposing sanctions on Chinese persons and entities in Xinjiang.

: Iran and China sign a 25-year strategic cooperation agreement addressing a wide variety of economic issues, including oil and mining, the promotion of industrial activity in Iran, as well as transportation and agricultural collaborations.

: Biden nominates Daniel J. Kritenbrink as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

: World Bank announces that the economy of Myanmar has contracted by 10% since the Feb. 1 coup. Food prices have doubled, and the cost of fuel has risen by 15%.

: United States and Taiwan further strengthen maritime security ties, signing a coastguard agreement suggested to counter growing “gray zone” threats from mainland China.

: United States condemns North Korea’s ballistic missile launches as “destabilizing” actions violating UN Security Council resolutions.

: Two suicide bombers believed to be members of an Islamist militant group detonate an explosive device outside a Catholic church, killing themselves and wounding 19 others.

: North Korea fires at least one unidentified projectile into the East Sea, according to the Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

: South Korea convenes an emergency National Security Council (NSC) meeting on North Korea’s latest projectile launch.

: Addressing NATO headquarters in Brussels, Blinken says “nine in 10 Americans believe that maintaining our alliances is the most effective way to achieve our foreign policy goals.”

: President Biden’s nominee to lead USINDOPACOM, Admiral John Aquilino, says that Beijing’s ability to invade Taiwan is “much closer than most think.”

: Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana calls upon the 220 Chinese vessels surrounding Whitsun Reef to withdraw, claiming they are violating the Philippines’ rights under international maritime law.

: North Korea fires off multiple short-range missiles after denouncing Washington for the joint military exercises with South Korea.

: Myanmar’s ruling military council spokesperson, Zaw Min Tun, says that the junta is cooperating with five neighboring countries and vows to stamp out “anarchy.”

: US Climate Envoy John Kerry attends the Ministerial on Climate Action, and meets with China’s Special Envoy for Climate Affairs Xie Zhenhua.

: 55-year-old businessman Mun Chol Myong, who faces money laundering charges, becomes the first North Korean citizen ever extradited to the United States.

: State Department issues a joint statement with Canada and the United Kingdom opposing China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

: South Korea’s Defense Minister Suh Wook signals closer military cooperation with Tokyo in a TV interview.

: Suga lifts the state of emergency in the four remaining prefectures (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba).

: Philippine troops kill a leader of the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group, Majan Sahidjuan, and rescue four Indonesian hostages.

: Australian Foreign Minister Payne states that Australia will not trade away important principles and values simply to restart diplomatic talks with China.

: North Korea says that it will sever diplomatic relations with Malaysia for extraditing its businessman living in Malaysia to the United States.

: North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui says North Korea will continue to ignore any contact from the United States unless the US withdraws its hostile policies toward North Korea.

: President Moon says South Korea will improve strained ties with Japan to bolster trilateral security cooperation involving the United States during talks with Blinken and Austin.

: During a trip to Seoul, Secretary Blinken calls on China to use its influence in Pyongyang to help pressure it into abandoning its nuclear program.

: Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi hold meetings with Secretary Blinken and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in Anchorage, Alaska. In a fiery round of opening statements, Blinken says China is contributing to a “far more violent world” and Chinese officials call the US hypocritical for complaining about human rights abuses given its history of racism.

: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijan criticizes Washington and Tokyo for attempting “anti-China encirclement” after officials raised concerns about its “destabilizing behavior” in the region.

: Asked by a reporter while traveling in Tokyo if the US is considering boycotting the 2022 Beijing Olympics, Secretary Blinken says President Biden is “listening to the concerns” of many countries and will decide what to do at the appropriate time.

: Blinken and Austin attend a US-ROK Foreign and Defense Ministerial (2+2) in Seoul. The meeting is hosted by the ROK’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Minister of Defense Suh Wook.

: Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi and Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo meet Secretaries Blinken and Austin, hold a Japan-US Security Consultative Committee (“2+2”) meeting in Tokyo.

: US Treasury Department sanctions 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials over Beijing’s changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system that took place on March 11.

: Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong condemns South Korea for military exercises with the United States.

: NSC Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell says that the Biden administration will not offer any improvements in the relationship with China until its economic coercion of Australia ceases.

: Myanmar’s military extends “full martial law” to all parts of Yangon following violent protests over the weekend that left 50 people dead.

: Chinese Ambassador to US Cui Tiankai argues that fears regarding an erosion of democracy in Hong Kong are “unnecessary.”

: Ahead of Indo-Pacific tour, Secretary of Defense Austin calls China “our pacing threat” and vows to strengthen alliances which, he says, give the US “a lot more capability.”

: A Biden administration official says North Korea has not responded to the behind-the-scenes Biden administration’s diplomatic outreach since mid-February.

: At a virtual summit of the Quad, the United States, Japan, Australia and India announce they will provide 1 billion doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, to be produced in India, to countries of the Indo-Pacific by the end of 2022. The Quad Leaders’ Joint Statement is also released, reaffirming a shared vision for “a region that is free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion.”

: Quad leaders’ Washington Post op-ed is published, highlighting the history of the four nations’ cooperation and new challenges for the region that require coordination. China is not mentioned.

: Washington says it will not ease its sanctions on Iran, including Iranian funds in South Korea, until Iran returns to compliance with the JCPOA.

: US Navy sends warship USS John Finn on voyage through the Taiwan Strait, drawing the ire of Beijing. This is the third such voyage under the Biden administration.

: China’s national legislature approves resolution drastically altering Hong Kong’s electoral system, expanding the Electoral Committee with 3oo Beijing loyalists who will comprise the fifth sector of the 1,500 member body.

: State Department condemns the Beijing legislature’s tightening the central government’s control over Hong Kong’s electoral system, deeming the move to be a “direct attack” on the city’s autonomy. A day later, Secretary Blinken also joins other G7 foreign ministers and the High Representative of the European Union in a joint-statement condemning the changes made to Hong Kong’s electoral laws by China’s National People’s Congress.

: Secretary Blinken refers to South Korea and Japan as “two of our most important allies” during testimony before Congress ahead of his Indo-Pacific tour.

: Prime Minister Suga and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi hold a phone call ahead of the upcoming Quad meeting with the US and Australia, pledging to realize a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”

: Official news outlet of the Communist Party of China’s Xinjiang region says unidentified companies have filed a domestic civil lawsuit seeking compensation from Adrian Zenz, a US-based human rights researcher, whose reports have alleged the region’s cotton industry utilizes forced labor.

: OECD says a global economic recovery is “in sight” thanks partly to fiscal stimulus in the US and increasing vaccine deployment, despite “uneven” vaccine distribution.

: Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne announces Australia’s suspension of its defense cooperation program with Myanmar amid an intensified crackdown on protesters and media by the country’s military.

: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi delineates Hong Kong and Taiwan “red lines” in its relations with the United States, but says there is room for cooperation in the areas of pandemic control, economic recovery, and climate change.

: US Senate unanimously approves bill to tighten controls on Chinese-funded Confucius Institutes accused by lawmakers of being propaganda tools.

: Secretary Austin includes North Korea on the list of threats to the United States and its allies.

: US unveils new measures to punish Myanmar’s army for its coup, blocking the ministries of defense and home affairs and top military conglomerates from certain types of trade.

: China and South Korea establish two additional military hotlines as an effort to avoid any military miscalculation.

: ASEAN foreign ministers urge the Myanmar military to desist from violence during an informal online meeting.

: Following China’s import ban on Taiwanese pineapples, the de facto US and Canadian embassies in Taiwan praise Taiwan’s pineapples on social media.

: Philippine Defense Undersecretary Raymund Elefante and Indian Ambassador Shambu Kumaran sign an implementing agreement involving the procurement of defense material and equipment by the Philippines from India including BrahMos cruise missiles.

: Biden administration releases the “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance,” which warns of an “increasingly assertive” China, “the only competitor potentially capable of combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to mount a sustained challenge to a stable and open international system.”

: President Moon Jae-in says South Korea is ready to talk with Japan anytime, stating that it would also be helpful to the trilateral partnership with the United States.

: Suga lifts the state of emergency in six prefectures (Aichi, Gifu, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukuoka).

: South Korea’s National Assembly passes a parliamentary resolution denouncing the military coup in Myanmar.

: US Defense Department spokesman says North Korea’s continued development of weapons poses a threat to the United States and its allies.

: Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Koichi Aiboshi meets South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun and they agree to maintain close communication.

: G7 foreign ministers issue a statement condemning the violence committed in Myanmar against protestors and calling upon the security forces to exercise “utmost restraint and respect human rights and international law.”

: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and nine ministers survive a no-confidence motion in parliament following a four-day censure debate. Protests calling for his resignation resume.

: Biden addresses the 2021 Virtual Munich Security Conference, says the US would be working closely with allies and partners “to meet the range of shared challenges we face.”

: South Korean Nuclear Envoy Noh Kyu-duk, acting US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs Sung Kim, and Japanese Director-General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Takehiro Funakoshi meet virtually to discuss North Korean-related issues.

: South Korean Minister of Unification Lee In-young says that North Korea faces a food shortage of over 1.2 million to 1.3 million tons this year due to damage from heavy downpours that happened last year.

: In a CNN town hall meeting, Biden says that he told Xi that there would be “repercussions” for China’s human rights abuses.

: Satellite images provided by the Indian Army show China dismantling dozens of structures and moving vehicles from camps along parts of the disputed Himalayan border.

: Jose Santiago Sta. Romana, the Philippines Ambassador to China, states that China has sought to ease tensions with Manila over its controversial new coastguard law.

: Japan announces that it will build three transport ships for the Ground Self-Defense Forces designed to supply ammunition, fuel, and provisions to troops stationed on its outlying islands, as part of its efforts to deal with China’s military buildup in the region.

: TikTok’s Chinese owner, Bytedance, walks away from a deal to sell the video-sharing application’s US operations to a group led by Oracle following Donald Trump’s departure from the White House.

: CGTN loses permission to air in Germany, just days after its broadcasting license was revoked in Britain.

: US military begins its delayed two-week-long annual Yudh Abhuas exercise with India, which has been reported to be the Biden administration’s first move to use its Quad partners to exert pressure on Beijing.

: South Korea’s new Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stress close cooperation for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula during their first phone talks.

: China bans the BBC’s World News in retaliation to the UK banning the Chinese state-backed broadcaster CGTN’s license the previous week.

: Kyodo reports that the Japanese government is hesitant to impose sanctions on Myanmar following the military coup there, fearing that doing so would drive the military closer to China.

: President Biden signs Executive Order 14014, which authorizes an initial round of sanctions on top military leaders in Myanmar who were involved in the Feb. 1 coup, among other possible actions.

: Official negotiations open on renewal of the US-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), triggering a 180-day countdown in which the agreement must be renewed or terminated.

: A confidential UN report states that North Korea maintained and developed its nuclear and ballistic missile programs throughout 2021 in violation of international sanctions. According to the report, these were partially funded with some $300 million stolen through cyber hacks.

: Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian states that PLA and Indian troops have “simultaneously” begun disengagement in the disputed border of Pangong Lake in a “planned, orderly manner.”

: Presidents Biden and Xi engage in their first phone call since Biden’s inauguration. Issues pertaining to trade, human rights, the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang feature throughout the dialogue.

: French nuclear attack submarine Émeraude and its naval support ship Seine carry out freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea as part of Paris’ efforts to challenge Beijing’s sweeping claims in the region.

: Chinese President Xi Jinping says that China and Vietnam must manage their own maritime disputes and resist outside instigation during a phone call with his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Phu Trong.

: Tens of thousands of people in Myanmar march in protest against the military coup for the second straight day, as a partial restoration of Internet connection flooded Myanmar social media with images and videos of the demonstrations.

: In a CBS interview broadcast, President Biden describes the US-China rivalry as “extreme competition” rather than conflict, and acknowledges that he is yet to speak to his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

: China protests US Navy destroyer USS John S. McCain’s freedom of navigation exercise in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, the first such operation under the Biden administration.

: Vice-Admiral Aan Kurnia, head of Indonesia’s Maritime Security Agency, warns that China’s new coastguard law heightens risk of “spillover conflict” into Indonesia’s territorial waters around the Natuna Islands, where two countries have had skirmishes before.

: Biden declares “America is back” during first visit to State Department as president: “American leadership must meet this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy.”

: US announces an extension of the New Strategic Arms Treaty, the last remaining treaty with Russia capping their nuclear arsenals, until 2026, vowing to pursue similar arms agreements with Beijing.

: Aircraft carrier group USS Nimitz departs its extended period in the Middle East for the Indo-Pacific region.

: Tokyo conveys “strong concerns” to Beijing over China’s new coast guard legislation. Tokyo and London’s foreign and defense ministers also express concern about the law.

: Suga extends the state of emergency to March 7 for 10 prefectures.

: President Biden calls on Myanmar’s military to relinquish power immediately.

: Taiwan’s Defense Ministry states that Seven People’s Liberation Army warplanes and a US reconnaissance aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, as tensions across the strait continue to escalate.

: Myanmar’s military launches a coup, detaining leader Aung San Suu Kyi and a number of other high profile elected officials.

: A World Health Organization team investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic visits a Wuhan seafood market linked to the earliest COVID-19 cases.

: US states that Chinese military flights in the past week in the South China Sea fit a pattern of destabilization and aggressive behavior by Beijing, but pose no threat to a US Navy carrier strike group in the region.

: A Pentagon spokesperson calls Chinese remarks equating Taiwanese independence as “war” as “unfortunate,” and reaffirms Washington’s commitment to improving the self-ruled island’s defense capacity.

: President Biden assures Japanese Prime Minister Suga that the US-Japan mutual treaty applies to the disputed Senkaku Islands.

: Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian warns the Biden administration and Taiwan, stating that the pursuit of independence for the self-ruled island “means war.”

: US Special Climate Envoy John Kerry says at a press conference that the US must deal with China on climate change as a “critical standalone issue,” adding that the Biden administration will not trade concessions on human rights and trade for climate cooperation.

: Head of the Philippine fishers’ association describes China’s new law permitting China’s coastguard to fire on foreign vessels in disputed waters as a “virtual declaration of war.”

: China and New Zealand complete a review and expansion of their free trade agreement, eliminating almost all trade tariffs.

: South Korea’s Bank of Korea announces that South Korea’s real gross domestic product fell by 1% in 2020, marking the lowest growth rate in 22 years.

: US Senate confirms Antony Blinken as secretary of state.

: Secretary Austin calls on key Asian allies to work with the US in the Indo-Pacific, signaling his intention to boost defense ties in the region amid US regional competition with China.

: Washington urges Beijing to end its military pressure against Taiwan, hours after Taipei reported a large incursion into its airspace by the mainland Chinese air force.

: In the first US-Japanese ministerial-level talk since President Biden took office, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin affirms to Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo that the Senkaku Islands fall within the scope of the Japan-US Mutual Security Treaty.

: China’s top legislative body passes a law permitting its coastguards to fire on foreign vessels and demolish structures built in disputed waters.

: State Department urges Beijing to cease military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan in a press release.

: Lloyd Austin is confirmed by the Senate to be secretary of Defense.

: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying calls for the “better angels in US-China relations” to emerge following the inauguration of President Biden.

: 13th National Party Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam opens to select the top leadership of the party as well as choosing members of the Politburo, and to set policy goals for the next five years.

: Japan characterizes China’s “drawing of territorial sea baselines” as incongruent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

: President Biden is inaugurated in Washington.

: Beijing pledges to use its political and economic strengths to contain pro-independence forces in Taiwan, identifying it as a key talk for the Communist Party’s centenary year.

: Secretary Pompeo declares that China’s treatment of Uygurs in Xinjian constitutes genocide.

: South Korean President Moon Jae-in urges President-elect Joe Biden to hold talks with North Korea to build on the progress that President Trump made with leader Kim Jong Un.

: United States imposes sanctions on six pro-Beijing Hong Hong officials over mass arrests of pro-democracy activists.

: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi concludes his Southeast Asian tour in the Philippines, promising its “closest neighbour” half a million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, $1.34 billion in loan pledges for infrastructure projects, and$77 million in grants.

: North Korea holds a military parade in Pyongyang, displaying its new Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM).

: Pompeo announces that the US is sanctioning six PRC and Hong Kong officials after pro-democracy arrests in Hong Kong.

: Trump administration announces sanctions on officials of Chinese state-owned enterprises and military and adds Chinese oil giant CNOOC to an economic blacklist, accusing them of using coercion against states with rival claims in the South China Sea.

: US Department of Defense releases names of additional companies added to the list of “Communist Chinese military companies” operating in the US.

: China’s new armed reconnaissance drone, the WJ-700, completes its maiden flight at an undisclosed location.

: US bans all imports of cotton and tomato products from China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, citing growing concerns over widespread use of forced labor.

: Biden selects Kurt Campbell to serve as National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific.

: India returns a People’s Liberation Army soldier who strayed across the disputed Himalayas region.

: US State Department says that Mike Pompeo has no plans to travel to Taiwan amid Chinese commentary that a visit to Taiwan from the US secretary of state would provoke an “overwhelming” response from Beijing.

: Social media images of the People’s Liberation Army reveal the first public display of its upgraded PCL-191 long-range multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), capable of firing 370mm rockets 217 miles, or 750mm ballistic missiles 311 miles.

: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un examines ties with Seoul, determining to expand foreign relations on the third day of his second Party Congress since ascending to power in 2012.

: Secretary Pompeo approves the creation of a new cyber-security and emerging technologies bureau to fight against cyber-security threats, citing threats from North Korea.

: South Korean court orders Japan to compensate 12 women who were forced to work as so-called “comfort women” in wartime brothels, drawing ire from Tokyo.

: Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide declares a second state of emergency due to COVID-19 in four prefectures (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba) through Feb. 7. He declares a state of emergency for seven more prefectures on Jan. 13.

: Members of the US Congress certify the November election results, while a violent mob of Trump supporters storms the US Capitol building.

: Outgoing US President Donald Trump signs an executive order arguing that “aggressive action” must be taken against eight notable Chinese applications, including Alipay and WeChat Pay.

: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issues a statement condemning China’s arrest of more than 50 pro-democracy politicians and activists in Hong Kong.

: New York Stock Exchange reverses plans to delist three Chinese state-run telecoms groups to comply with a Trump administration executive order that bars US investors from holding stakes in companies with alleged ties to the Chinese military.

: Eighth Congress of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party opens in Pyongyang, unannounced; this is not reported until Jan. 6.

: US Ambassador to India Kenneth I Juster describes the Indo-Pacific as “significant” for US-India relations in a press conference in New Delhi.

: China Securities Regulatory Commission describes the US government’s order to delist three Chinese telcos from the New York Stock Exchange as politically motivated and in breach of market rules.

: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi extends an olive branch to the incoming Biden administration, stating that a “new window of hope” is opening.

: Commenting on Japanese interest in becoming the sixth eye of the Five Eyes alliance, a research associate at Fudan University’s Center for Japanese Studies opines that Japan is “strong in will but weak in capability,” but will continue to move closer to the alliance.

: Bipartisan Congressional provision condemning China’s aggression towards India becomes law, as the US Congress overrides Donald Trump’s veto on the $740 billion defense policy bill.

: Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post describes China’s strategy to wear down Japanese resistance to its claim over the Senkaku Islands through repeated air and sea incursions.

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