Regional Overview

Chronology from May 2013 to Aug 2013

: North Korea rescinds its invitation for US Envoy Robert King to visit.

: China requests Philippine President Benigno Aquino cancel his visit to the Sept. 3 Nanning Trade Expo and reschedule it for a “more conducive time.”

: Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority raises Fukushima nuclear power plant leak crisis to level three: “serious incident.”

: United Nation’s Arbitral Tribunal asks the Philippines to submit all necessary documentation concerning its territorial dispute with China by March 30, 2014.

: ASEAN Defense Officials Meeting (ADSOM) Retreat, ASEAN Defense  Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Retreat, and ADMM Plus are held in Brunei.

: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visits China and meets President Xi Jinping.

: An operator from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant acknowledges that contaminated water has been leaking into the sea since May 2011.

: The US and South Korea fail to reach a resolution on renewing the 5-year Special Measure Agreement (SMA) to fund US Forces Korea (USFK).

: Secretary of Defense Hagel travels to Asia with stops in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Philippines.

: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi visits Cambodia and meets Prime Minister Hun Sen.

: South Korea’s Ambassador to Japan Lee Byung-kee meets Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio. Lee applauds Prime Minister Abe’s decision not to visit the Yasukuni Shrine, but expresses dissatisfaction with his Memorial Day speech.

: Deputy foreign ministers of Japan and Russia begin preliminary negotiations regarding a formal peace treaty in the Northern Territories (Southern Kurile Islands).

: Panel of 20 experts from China and Japan meet in Toyoko to discuss bilateral crisis management concerning military stand-offs in the Diaoyus/Senkakus.

: First China-Thailand Strategic Dialogue is held in Bangkok.

: South Korea and US conduct joint military exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian. North Korea condemns the exercise as a “confrontational policy.”

: Chinese Gen. Chang Wanquan visits the US and meets Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. He says China is committed to resolving territorial disputes through dialogue, but will not “barter” away core maritime interests. He also notes that increased US involvement in regional military drills “complicates” the situation.

: Three Japanese Cabinet members visit Yasukuni Shrine to honor Japan’s war dead on the 68th anniversary of Japan’s surrender. China and South Korea condemn the actions.

: North and South Korea reach agreement to reopen the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex and to open it up to international investors. No official date is set for the reopening.

: United Nations Refugee Agency strongly urges the Myanmar government to hold a peace dialogue with the Rohingya and other “internally displaced persons.”

: The 35th anniversary of the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship is affirmed by delegations, but receives no celebratory fanfare.

: The Philippines offers an official apology to the family of the Taiwanese fisherman shot on May 9.

: The US Institute for Science and International Security warns of satellite images that reveal North Korea is expanding its Yongbyon uranium enrichment facility, which is believed to hold a gas centrifuge plant.

: Philippine Justice Department announces that they recommended homicide charges against eight Filipino coastguards for the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters on May 9. Taiwan welcomes the move as a “constructive response.”

: Sam Rainsy, leader of the CNRP, urges the United Nations to “referee” an investigation into the results of the July 28 Cambodian general elections, claiming massive fraud has prevented his party from assuming a majority in the Parliament.

: Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh visits the Philippines and meets Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.

: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends China-ASEAN forum and visits Malaysia, Laos, and Vietnam.

: South Korean court finds Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries guilty of forced wartime labor and orders it to pay 80 million won to five South Koreans taken in 1944.

: Japan, China, and South Korea hold the second round of three-way free trade agreement talks in Shanghai.

: Japan rejects Russia’s June proposal to commence joint development and energy projects in the Kuril Islands because of the sovereignty implications.

: Cambodia holds general elections. Of 123 seats being contested, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodia People’s Party wins 68 seats and Sam Rainsy’s Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) wins 55 seats.

: The natural gas portion of the Myanmar-China Oil and Gas Pipeline begins transporting gas to China.

: Russia and China participate in anti-terrorism bilateral military exercise Peace Mission-2013 in Chelyabinsk.

: China’s Vice President Li Yuanchao visits North Korea. Li reaffirms China’s commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.

: Japan’s Prime Minister Abe visits Southeast Asia with stops in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. In the three capitals, Abe briefs his counterparts on his so-called Abenomics prescription for revitalizing the Japanese economy and discusses the perceived security threat from China. While in Singapore, he also meets US Vice President Biden.

: Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang visits US and meets President Obama. In a joint statement they announce the establishment of a “US-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership to provide an overarching framework for advancing the relationship.”

: US Vice President Joe Biden visits Asia with stops in India and Singapore.

: Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, New Komeito, win a combined total of 135 seats in the House of Councillors, uniting a majority in both lower and upper houses behind Prime Minister Abe’s “Abenomics” plan.

: Australia and Papua New Guinea sign an agreement stating any refugee arriving by boat to Australia will be sent to Manus Island to have refugee status appraised.

: Panama detains a North Korean ship departing from Cuba carrying missile parts and two Soviet MiG-21 fighter jets.

: The 18th round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations is held in Malaysia. Japan officially joins the negotiations.

: US and Singapore conduct bilateral CARAT 2013 military exercise.

: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visits Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea and meets Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

: UN tribunal hearing the Philippines’ case against Chinese claims in the South China Sea is convened in The Hague, Netherlands.

: South Korean court orders Japan’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. to pay $88,000 to each of four Korean plaintiffs forcibly drafted to work for the company in 1941.

: China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) is held in Washington.

: China and Russia conduct Joint Sea 2013 naval exercise in the Sea of Japan. China’s Ministry of Defense describes the exercise as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s single biggest deployment of military force in a joint exercise.

: North Korean First Vice Minister Kim Kye Gwan visits Russia and meets Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov and other senior diplomats.

: US Treasury Department adds Myanmar’s Lt. Gen. Thein Htay to its Specially Designated Nationals list, charging that he purchased weapons and materials from North Korea.

: ASEAN-related meetings including the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, the 20th ASEAN Regional Forum, and the third East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting are held in Brunei.

: Japanese Defense Minister Onodera Itusnori visits the Philippines and meets Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. They agree to cooperate in defending “remote islands” and Gazmin announces that the Philippines will allow foreign allies like the US and Japan greater access to the country’s military bases.

: Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang visits Indonesia and meets President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. They reaffirm their support for implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and completing the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. They also agree to coordinate joint naval patrols in their maritime territories.

: South Korea’s President Park visits China and meets President Xi Jinping.

: US and the Philippines conduct the 19th Philippine CARAT exercise.

: The UN Security Council’s North Korea Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts releases its annual report; it states that North Korea deliberately transformed Chinese lumber vehicles into missile launch transporters.

: Edward Snowden leaves Hong Kong for Russia despite a US arrest warrant issued on charges of espionage.

: China says the Philippine occupation of Ren’ai Reef violates the Declaration of Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and undermines Chinese sovereignty.

: Philippines deploys fresh troops and supplies to its grounded ship located on the Second Thomas Shoal (Philippines: Ayungin Reef; Chinese: Ren’ai Reef) in the Spratly Islands.

: China and North Korea conduct a strategic dialogue. DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan says his government is willing to reconvene the Six-Party Talks.

:   Representatives from ASEAN and China meet in Vietnam for a workshop to strengthen search and rescue coordination in the South China Sea.

: Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang visits China and meets President Xi Jinping. They agree to establish a maritime hotline to handle fishing disputes in the South China Sea, to implement the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and to hold two joint patrols of the Beibu Gulf later this year.

: Cambodia and Thailand vow to maintain peace along the border and to abide by the International Court of Justice’s decision on the Preah Vihear Temple territorial dispute.

: Brunei hosts a military exercise focusing on humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and military medicine conducted under the auspices of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM+).  Participants include military personnel from 18 countries.

: US and Malaysia conduct 19th Malaysia CARAT naval exercise.

: Philippines National Bureau of Investigation announces it will pursue criminal charges against Philippine Coast Guard members for the May 9 death of a Taiwanese fisherman.

: The Myanmar portion of the Myanmar-China natural gas pipeline is completed.

: China and Russia hold joint Cooperation 2013 military exercise designed to improve counter-terrorism efforts.

: North and South Korea reopen cross-border phone line.

:   President Xi Jinping meets President Obama in California. They agree to working-level talks to tackle cyber security disputes. North Korea and ongoing tensions in the South and East China Sea are also discussed.

: US and South Korea fail to reach consensus on revising the Agreement for Cooperation Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Korea Concerning Civil Uses of Atomic Energy (123 civil nuclear agreement) to allow Seoul the right to independently enrich uranium and reprocess its spent nuclear fuel.

: China asks Japan to cancel joint US-Japan Dawn Blitz 2013 military exercise scheduled to start June 10, which involves a Navy/Marine amphibious assault on an island.

: Arms Trade Treaty is opened for signature at the UN; 67 countries sign the treaty.

: Cambodia hosts and 20 nations participate in Pacific Airlift Rally to improve regional airlift cooperation and disaster relief.

: Thailand and the US conduct the 19th Thailand CARAT military exercise.

: Defense ministers of the US, Japan, and South Korea meet on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue to discuss a coordinated response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and related provocations to discuss a coordinated response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and related provocations.

: Singapore hosts the 12th Shangri-La Dialogue; Institute for International Security Studies’ annual Asian Security Dialogue.

: ASEAN and China hold eighth joint meeting on the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. They agree to implement the declaration and develop maritime emergency measures.

: Nine North Korean defectors are deported from Laos back to North Korea.

: Brunei hosts 10th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Security Policy Conference.
May 24-26, 2013: Japanese Prime Minister Abe visits Myanmar and meets President Thein Sein. Japan pledges $498.5 million in economic development loans.

: Taipei announces that the Taiwan Coast Guard will protect Taiwanese fishing boats them from “harassment by the Philippines.”

: North Korea invites South Korea to commemorate the June 15 Joint Declaration.

: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visits Japan and meets Japanese Prime Minister Abe. They agree to enhance bilateral economic ties.

: Malaysia and US conduct 19th Indonesia Cooperation and Readiness Afloat (CARAT) military exercise.

: North Korea releases held Chinese fishing boat and crew.

: Former National Security Administration (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden arrives in Hong Kong after releasing classified documents regarding US intelligence operations.

: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits India and meets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. They sign eight documents pertaining to border and economic issues.

: North Korea fires six short-range guided missiles into the East Sea, as part of “normal military training.”

: The US Energy Department conditionally authorizes exports of domestically produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Freeport LNG Terminal on Quintana Island, Texas to countries that do not have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States.

: Myanmar President Thein Sein visits Washington and meets President Barack Obama. Trade officials sign a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement.

: Philippines issues an apology to Taiwan regarding the May 9 fishing boat incident. Taiwan rejects the apology as insincere and implements new sanctions against the Philippines, including a tourist “red alert” and suspension of all Philippine laborer applications.

: US citizen Kenneth Bae begins 15-year prison sentence in North Korea.

: Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s special Cabinet adviser Iijima Isao visits Pyongyang to make progress on the “abduction issue.”

: US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies visits South Korea, Japan, and China. China maintains that they are implementing sanctions and Japan expresses a desire to “keep the door open” for talks with North Korea.

:   Cambodia’s National Assembly ratifies a maritime transportation agreement between ASEAN and China that will expand cooperation on passenger and cargo transport. All ASEAN member states except for Indonesia have ratified the agreement.

: Philippine Coast Guard fires on one of four Taiwanese fishing vessels that it claims entered its territorial waters, killing a Taiwanese fisherman. Taiwan demands a formal investigation, apology, compensation, and punishment for those responsible within 72 hours.

: Bank of China shuts down a North Korean Foreign Trade Bank account with ties to North Korean nuclear and missile development programs.

: Japan makes a formal complaint against the Chinese People’s Daily, for publishing remarks that question Japan’s sovereignty over the Ryukyu Islands. The Chinese government stresses that the commentary reflects outside research opinions.

:   US releases annual Pentagon report examining China’s territorial claim to the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. It cites China for “improperly drawn straight baseline claims” beginning in September 2012. China responds that the US should avoid taking sides.

: Seventh ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) is held in Brunei. They outline support networks for cyber security, climate change, and communicable diseases; agree to conduct the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief and Military Medicine Exercise in Brunei; and reiterate commitment to pursue Code of Conduct talks with China.

: South Korea and the US hold joint anti-submarine warfare drills in the Yellow Sea/East Sea, which involve the USS Nimitz,  Los Angeles-class submarines, Aegis destroyers, and P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft.

: North Korea seizes a Chinese fishing vessel with 16 crew members for “fishing in its territorial waters” and demands $98,000 for its release.

: South Korean President Park Geun-hye visits the US and meets President Barack Obama. Park unveils her vision for a Northeast Asian multinational coalition rooted in the ROK-US alliance and outlines a “trustpolitik” process.

: South Korea pulls the last seven workers from Kaesong Industrial Complex.

:  US lifts a sweeping ban on visas for Myanmar officials, further easing sanctions despite the increase in ethnic violence.  Nevertheless, Washington extends Myanmar’s “national emergency status” because of continued human rights problems.

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