Regional Overview

Chronology from May 2012 to Aug 2012

: Japan and North Korea hold intergovernmental talks for the first time in four years in Beijing. They are described as preliminary consultation in anticipation of holding “full-fledged talks in the near future.

: The navies of the US, Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand conduct Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercises in Malacca Strait, Sulu Sea and Subic Bay to enhance their interoperability in addressing maritime threats.

: The 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting (AEMM) and related events are held in Phnom Penh.

: South Korea and US conduct the annual joint military exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian. The exercise is denounced by Pyongyang as a rehearsal for war.

: A group of 10 Japanese activists make an unauthorized landing on Uotsuri Island, part of the Senkaku/Diaoyu archipelago.

: Demonstrations protesting Japanese claims to the Diaoyus are held in several Chinese cities. Japan asks the Chinese government to protect its citizens living in China.

: Japan detains 14 Chinese who landed on one of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands to assert China’s sovereignty, alleging they had made an “illegal entry.” They are released and deported two days later.

: Jang Song Taek leads a delegation of senior DPRK officials on a visit to Beijing and signs an agreement to develop joint economic zones in Hwanggumpyong and Rason. The delegation also meets President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

:   Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi travels to Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia and pledges to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on completing a code of conduct for the South China Sea on the basis of consensus.

: Red Cross officials from Japan and North Korea meet in Beijing in their first talks in 10 years to discuss the possible retrieval of remains of Japanese who died in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula during the final phase of World War II.

: China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng summons US Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Wang, to express displeasure with the Aug. 3 State Department statement.

:   North Korean Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Yong Nam visits Vietnam and Laos.

: US State Department releases a statement saying that China’s recent upgrading of Sansha City and the establishment of a military garrison command at Woody Island in the Paracels are not conducive to resolving disputes and risk further escalating tensions in the region.

:   US Congress extends a ban on imports from Myanmar, seeking to maintain pressure despite recent Myanmar reforms that have prompted the easing of other sanctions.

:   A Chinese delegation led by Wang Jiarui, head of the Communist Party’s International Department visits Pyongyang and meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

:   Singapore, Thai, and Indonesian air forces participate with their Australian and US counterparts in the biannual air combat exercise, Pitch Black, held in Darwin, Australia.  The exercise involves some 2,500 personnel.

:   Philippine Navy announces it will deploy ships to Thitu Island to warn Chinese fishing boats operating near the island and within the Philippines’ 12 nm territorial waters.

:   Six US senators introduce a resolution urging China and members of ASEAN to make progress toward developing a legally binding code of conduct for the South China Sea.

: Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang visits Russia and agrees to allow Russia to open a ship maintenance facility at Cam Ranh Bay in central Vietnam.

:   Cambodia and Thailand open a permanent border crossing between Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province and Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani.

:   Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense states it is ready to deploy mortars and anti-aircraft guns on Itu Aba, the largest of the Spratly Islands.

:   Philippine Senate ratifies the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) with Australia, providing for enhanced bilateral defense and military cooperation, including authorization for Australian troops to engage in training and joint exercises in the Philippines.

:   China’s Defense Ministry announces it will establish a military garrison in the Parcel Islands.

:   Myanmar President Thein Sein meets Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to sign agreements reaffirming cooperation on the development of a deep-sea port at Dawei, Myanmar and Thailand’s support preparing Myanmar for its 2014 ASEAN chairmanship.

:   Former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee of the ruling Congress Party is elected president of India.

:   China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) approves the creation of a military garrison command at Woody Island in the South China Sea’s disputed Paracel Islands.

:   ASEAN foreign ministers release a statement reaffirming their “six-point principles” regarding the South China Sea.

: Cambodia and Thailand simultaneously pull back troops from a disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple in compliance with a 2011 International Court of Justice ruling.

:   Russia and China veto a Western-backed UN Security Council resolution threatening the government of Syria with sanctions.

:   The 18th Singapore and US Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Exercise is held in the South China Sea.

: US Pacific Commander Adm. Locklear visits Manila and meets President Aquino and senior foreign and defense officials.  He pledges US assistance to build a Philippine “minimum credible defense posture.”

:   US Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats accompanies a US-ASEAN Business Council delegation to Myanmar.

:   The 19th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the second East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting are held in Phnom Penh.

:   Prime Ministers Hun Sen of Cambodia and Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand meet to discuss heightening tensions over a disputed area near the Preah Vilhear temple.

:   Fifth Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial Meeting is held in Cambodia.

:   South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, Japanese Foreign Minister Gemba Koichiro, and Secretary of State Clinton announce the establishment of a security consultative body that will be based in Washington DC.

:   The US announces the lifting of sanctions on Myanmar ending the prohibition of investments by US companies in Myanmar’s oil and gas.

: ARF Defense Officials Dialogue is held in Phnom Penh.

: The Mekong-Japan and Mekong-Republic of Korea Ministerial Meetings are held in Phnom Penh.

:   The 45th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting/Post Ministerial Conferences are held in Phnom Penh. ASEAN ministers fail to issue a joint communiqué after the ASEAN meeting due to disagreements regarding the South China Sea.

: Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visits Kunashir Island of the Kuril Islands, which in Japan are referred to as Northern Territories. Japan issues a protest.  

: South Korea postpones at the last minute the signing of a bilateral military agreement with Japan that would share military intelligence and facilitate cooperation in exchanging military goods and services.

: US Senate confirms Derek Mitchell as the first US ambassador to Myanmar in more than two decades.

: US-sponsored Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercises are conducted in Hawaii, involving 22 countries as observers and participants, but not China.

: US Pacific Command (USPACOM) Commander Adm. Samuel Locklear visits China and meets Defense Minister Liang Guanglie and other senior military leaders.

: US, South Korea, and Japan conduct a first-of-its-kind joint naval exercise in waters near the Korean Peninsula. China protests the exercises as destabilizing regional security.

: Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro visits Vietnam, Brunei, and Thailand.

: Secretary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta host South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin for a 2+2 Dialogue.

: The US and Thailand hold a Strategic Dialogue in Washington.

: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna meet for their annual strategic dialogue in Washington.

: SCO member states conduct Peace Mission 2012 at the Chorukh-Dairon range in northern Tajikistan. More than 2,000 soldiers and officers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, and Tajikistan participate. Uzbekistan declines to join the drill.

: The 12th Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit is held in Beijing.  

:   Philippine President Benigno Aquino travels to Washington DC and meets President Barack Obama.

:   Russian President Vladimir Putin visits China and meets President Hu Jintao.

: ARF Defense Officials Dialogue (ARF DOD) and ARF Security Policy Conference (ASPC) are held in Phnom Penh.

:   The 11th annual International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Summit (Shangri-La Dialogue) is held in Singapore.

: Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi visits Thailand on her first trip abroad in 24 years. She warns attendees at the World Economic Forum against “reckless optimism” about Myanmar’s reform process and meets Myanmar refugees.

:   US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visits Singapore, Vietnam, and India.

: Sixth ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) is held in Phnom Penh, agreement is reached to increase the frequency of the ADMM+ from every three years to every two years.

: Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Chinese Foreign Minister Liang Guanglie meet in Phnom Penh and agree to exercise restraint in order to prevent escalation of tensions in the South China Sea.

: ASEAN, Japan, South Korea, and China hold the ASEAN Plus 3 Senior Officials Meeting in Cambodia.

: US State Department releases its annual country report on human rights.

:   Philippines hosts the inaugural meeting of the ASEAN-US Eminent Persons Group (EPG) in an effort to strengthen cooperation between the US and ASEAN.

: Chen Guangcheng arrives with his family to study at New York University.

: Pentagon releases its annual report to Congress on the People’s Liberation Army.

: The Obama administration lifts most of the economic sanctions on Myanmar, opening the way for US investors for the first time in decades.  Yangon’s foreign minister is present in Washington for the announcement.

:   Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr travels to Beijing and meets Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

: South Korea announces that it will open a diplomatic mission at ASEAN headquarters in Jakarta. Baek Seong-taek is appointed ambassador.

: President Lee Myung-bak visits Myanmar, becoming the first South Korean president to visit the country since the 1983 Rangoon bombing.

: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Japanese Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko and Chinese President Hu Jintao hold their annual trilateral summit focusing on ways to enhance security, business, and trade cooperation.

: Kim Young Nam, president of North Korea’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, visits Indonesia and meets President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

: The first deep-water drilling rig developed in China is put into service in the South China Sea 320 km southeast of Hong Kong at a water depth of 1,500 meters.

: Vladimir Putin is sworn in as Russia’s president, starting his third term in the Kremlin following the two consecutive terms from 2000 to 2008.

:   South Korea and the US conduct Max Thunder, a joint military air exercise.

: The third US-China High Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE) is held in Beijing.

:   Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie visits the US and meets Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and visits several US military bases.

: Japanese, Chinese, and ROK finance ministers agree to strengthen financial cooperation through bond purchases.

: The 15th ASEAN Plus 3 Finance Ministers Meeting is held in Manila. They agree to improve coordination between financial and monetary authorities in member states.

: China and US hold the fourth Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) in Beijing. It is co-chaired by Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

: A 2+2 Meeting between the US and Philippine foreign and defense secretaries is held in Washington.

: The second US-China Strategic Security Dialogue, bringing together civilian and military officers to discuss security matters, is held in Beijing.

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