Regional Overview

Chronology from Oct 2008 to Dec 2008

: Asahi Shimbun reports China will begin construction of two aircraft carriers in 2009 with completion date of 2015.

: Protesters in Bangkok block access to the Parliament building, forcing a one-day delay and a change of venue to the Foreign Ministry building for the legislature’s opening session under Thailand’s new government.

: Three Chinese naval ships set sail for waters off Somalia to protect Chinese vessels from pirate attacks.

: Russia announces the delivery of first two of six Sukhoi SU30MK2 fighter jets to Indonesia as part of a deal agreed when then President Vladimir Putin visited Jakarta in 2007.

: Japan and Vietnam sign a trade deal to cut tariffs on about 90 percent of the goods and services traded between them.

: Burma signs a 30-year contract with four firms from South Korea and India to pipe natural gas to China from fields off Burma’s northwest coast.

: New Zealand and Fiji announce the expulsion of each other’s ambassadors.

: Indonesia launches a 3-day counterterrorism exercise in several cities and in the Malacca Strait.

: Adm. Timothy Keating of U.S. Pacific Command states that North Korea possesses intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S., including Hawaii and territories of the U.S. in the Pacific.

:   The Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO), headquartered in Beijing, formally begins its operations.  The organization, composed of Bangladesh, China, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan, Peru, and Thailand, seeks to enhance multilateral cooperation on space science and technology.

: Abhisit Vejjajiva is elected prime minister of Thailand.

: ASEAN foreign ministers bring into force the ASEAN Charter at a ceremony at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.

: State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte co-chair the 6th Senior Dialogue between the U.S. and China, agreeing that high-level dialogue and cooperation must be maintained and that the U.S. will continue to adhere to its one China policy.

: Regularly scheduled direct air and sea routes and direct mail service begins between China and Taiwan for the first time since 1949.

: President Lee Myung-bak, Prime Minister Aso Taro, and Premier Wen Jiabao hold a summit in Dazaifu, Japan.

: North Korea threatens to slow disablement of its Yongbyon nuclear facility after the U.S. announces it will suspend fuel aid due to North Korea’s refusal to accept a nuclear disarmament verification plan.

: Japan’s Diet approves a one-year extension of the Maritime Self-Defense Force refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.

: Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force completes its last airlift mission to Iraq.

: A Pentagon spokesman states that a DOD report that characterizes North Korea as a nuclear power “does not reflect official U.S. government policy regarding the status of North Korea.”

: Six-Party Talks are held in Beijing. The parties fail to agree on a protocol to verify North Korea’s declaration regarding its nuclear activities.

: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting President Dmitry Medvedev sign a civilian nuclear deal that includes Russia building four nuclear reactors in India.

: Assistant Secretary of State Hill and North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan meet in Singapore in advance of the upcoming Six-Party Talks meeting.

: The 5th round of the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue led by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Vice Premier Wang Qishan is held in Beijing.

: Thailand’s Constitutional Court orders the country’s governing political parties to dissolve over elections fraud. In addition, their leaders are prohibited from involvement in politics for a period of five years.

: Chief negotiators from Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. meet in Tokyo to discuss the upcoming Six-Party Talks on denuclearizing North Korea.

: South Korea officially ends its four-year military mission to Iraq.

: Train service connecting North and South Korea is suspended in a further sign of deteriorating relations.

: China executes a scientist accused of passing information to Taiwan, triggering condemnation from several countries including the United States.

: Gunmen in Mumbai launch a series of attacks at two hotels and a Jewish outreach center.

: China postpones a summit with the European Union, which was planned for Dec. 1 in Lyon France, because of European contacts with the Dalai Lama.

:   Thai protesters, from the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), occupy Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi international airport saying they will not leave until Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat resigns.

:   China announces its interest in participating in the third ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) in Thailand in March 2009.  China, India, and Japan have all submitted formal requests to be new members of the ADMM.

: Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting is held in Lima, Peru.

: The leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) nations – an international grouping of the world’s 19 largest national economies and the European Union – meet in Washington to discuss the global financial crisis.

: U.S. ships 50,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil to North Korea as part of the nuclear disarmament deal.

: Military commanders from 26 Asia Pacific countries meet in Bali for the 11th Chiefs of Defense Conference, which is co-hosted by the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the U.S. Pacific Command.

: China announces an estimated $586 billion economic stimulus plan over the next two years aimed at bolstering its weakening economy.

: John Key is elected prime minster as the National Party gains control of Parliament in New Zealand.

: At a meeting in Sao Paulo, the Group of 20 finance ministers issue a statement that its members would continue to take “all necessary actions” to restore stability.”

: Barack Obama is elected president of the United States.

: Chen Yunlin, chairman of China’s ARATS, visits Taiwan.

: Japan Air Self Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Tamogami is dismissed following publication of his award winning essay “Was Japan an Aggressor Nation?”

:   The seventh annual Council of the SCO Heads of Government (prime ministers) meets in Astana, Kazakhstan.

: Japan agrees to a U.S. position that other countries can shoulder Japan’s share of energy assistance to North Korea.

: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says he would advise the next president to seek a new nuclear arms agreement with Russia that provides for further reductions in nuclear warheads.

: Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet visits Russia and meets President Dimitry Medvedev on Oct. 27.

: Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao sign an agreement to turn contentious border areas into economic growth zones and jointly explore oil-rich offshore areas in the future.

: The foreign ministers of Thailand and Cambodia announce their countries’ border dispute has been peacefully resolved following a meeting between Prime Ministers Hun Sen and Somchai Wongsawat at the ASEM summit.

: The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit is held in Beijing with more than 30 heads of state in attendance.

: China and Singapore sign a free trade agreement (FTA).

: North Korea newspaper says that Japan should be removed from the Six-Party Talks since it impedes the denuclearization process.

: Cambodia postpones scheduled talks with Thailand to address recent clashes near the Preah Vihear Temple.

: Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, meets his Russian counterpart, Gen. Nikolai Makarov in Helsinki in an effort to move bilateral relations back on track.

: Thailand’s Supreme Court finds former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra guilty of a conflict of interest and dismisses the case against his wife involving a land deal she arranged. Thai prosecutors say they will ask for Thaksin’s extradition from Britain.

: Protesters in Taiwan assault ARATS Vice Chairman Zhang Mingqing, drawing an apology from President Ma Ying-jeou and condemnation from Beijing.

: Indonesia becomes the final member of ASEAN to ratify the ASEAN Charter clearing the way for its formal adoption.

: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Japan and meets Prime Minister Aso. They sign a Japan-India Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation.

: China announces a broad land reform plan that in theory will allow farmers to transfer or lease their land.

: Zhang Mingqing, vice chairman of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), arrives for a visit to Taiwan.

: Japan is elected to a nonpermanent seat at the UN Security Council for 2009-2010.

: 48-member Diet delegation visits Yasukuni Shrine, but no members of Aso Cabinet participate.

: President Bush announces South Korea’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program, which allows Korean citizens to stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days without visas.

: Generals from Thailand and Cambodia hold talks in an attempt to resolve the border dispute near the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

: China announces a nationwide recall of all dairy products more than a month old in its latest effort to end a scandal over contaminated milk.

: Thai and Cambodian soldiers exchange rocket and rifle fire in a confrontation at their border over the disputed Preah Vihear temple. At least two Cambodian soldiers are killed, and several soldiers from both sides are wounded.

: North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chon meets Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.

: Malabar 2008, a bilateral U.S.-Indian naval exercise, is conducted off India’s west coast.

: China’s State Council issues a directive for the Coast Guard and the fishery authorities to ban Chinese fishing vessels from entering “key sensitive maritime areas” along China’s eastern coast to prevent disputes with North and South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines over maritime boundaries from escalating further.

: Japanese Prime Minister Aso Taro criticizes the U.S. removal of North Korea from a terrorist blacklist and says Japan will not give aid to Pyongyang.

: Vice ministerial-level diplomats from the U.S., South Korea, and Japan hold talks in Washington to “discuss ways of bolstering cooperation on Northeast Asia and major international issues beyond the TCOG’s [Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group] agenda.”

: North Korea announces that it welcomes its removal from the U.S. terrorism sponsor list and that it would allow U.S. and UN monitors back into the Yongbyon nuclear complex as it resumes disabling its nuclear facilities.

: The U.S. announces that it has removed North Korea from State Sponsors of Terrorism List.

: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee sign the U.S.-Indian civilian nuclear cooperation agreement.

: Japan extends sanctions against North Korea for another six months.

: North Korea threatens to restart its nuclear facilities and  bars IAEA inspectors from all facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, although they reportedly are still in their guesthouses on the premises.

: China’s Health Ministry issues new safety standards for dairy foods after melamine-contaminated milk products sickened thousands of babies.

: The Philippine Senate ratifies the Japan-Philippine Free Trade Agreement that was originally signed in 2006.

: President George W. Bush signs legislation to enact the U.S.-India civilian nuclear agreement.

: The Philippines signs the ASEAN Charter.

: North Korea tests two short-range missiles off its west coast.

: South Korea conducts an international fleet review in the waters off Busan involving over 50 warships from the South Korean Navy and 12 other nations.

: Pentagon reports that China has postponed various military-to-military activities to protest U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

: Vietnam and the U.S. conduct their first ever strategic dialogue in Hanoi, addressing political, security, defense, and humanitarian cooperation.

: Secretary Hill meets Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Wu Dawei in Beijing to discuss the outcome of his negotiations with North Korean officials.

: The Bush administration notifies Congress of a $6.5 billion arms package for Taiwan.

: The Bush administration notifies Congress of a $6.5 billion Taiwan arms package.

: Assistant Secretary of State Hill meets South Korean counterpart Kim Sook to discuss Hill’s visit to Pyongyang for discussions concerning a verification protocol for North Korean denuclearization under the Six-Party Talks. Later, he meets his Japanese counterpart Saiki Akitaka for similar discussions.

: Military officers from the two Koreas meet in Panmunjom, the first official contact between the nations since Lee Myung-bak became president in February.

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