Regional Overview

Chronology from May 2015 to Aug 2015

: US National Security Advisor Susan Rice visits China and meets President Xi Jinping as well as State Councilor Yang Jiechi, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and General Fan Changlong, a vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission.

: North and South Korea meet in Panmunjom and reach agreement on measures to reduce tensions. The North “expresses regret” over recent mine blasts that maimed two ROK soldiers and the South agrees to switch off loudspeakers broadcasting propaganda messages across the border.

: ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting and related meetings are held in Kuala Lumpur. Ministers from the countries involved in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership announcement agreement on the “modalities” for the partnership on Aug. 24.

: China and Russia conduct a joint naval exercise, Joint Sea-2015 (II), in the Peter the Great Gulf, waters off the Clerk Cape, and the Sea of Japan.

: US Department of Defense releases its Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy.

: US and Malaysia conduct CARAT Malaysia 2015, a joint military exercise.

: South Korea-US joint military exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian is held in Korea. North Korea condemns the exercise as a “declaration of war” and boasts of its ability to make retaliatory strikes against Seoul and the White House.

: North Korea rejects accusations by South Korea that it was responsible for landmine explosions on Aug. 4 inside the DMZ that wounded two South Korean soldiers.

:   Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo delivers a speech commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in which he acknowledges the Murayama and Kono Statements, but largely fails to satisfy the Chinese and South Korean demands for an apology.

: ASEAN Regional Forum is held in Kuala Lumpur.

: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi states that Beijing has halted land reclamation in the South China Sea, and calls on countries in the region to speed up talks on how claimant states should conduct themselves in the disputed waters.

: Two South Korean soldiers are injured by landmines inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ). The South Korean military blames Pyongyang for placing the mines in the area.

: Secretary of State John Kerry visits Asia with stops in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Vietnam.

: US and Indonesian navies conduct CARAT exercise.  Activities include amphibious landings and anti-submarine warfare.

: ASEAN-related foreign minister and post-ministerial meetings (48th ASEAN, 16th ASEAN+3, and fifth East Asia Summit) are held in Kuala Lumpur.

: China and Southeast Asian nations agree to set up a foreign ministers’ hotline to address emergencies, avoid accidents and miscalculations in the South China Sea. The regional foreign ministers’ hotline will be the first involving China. Manila and Hanoi established a naval hotline in 2014 to monitor ongoing events in the South China Sea.

: South Korean Director General of the Foreign Ministry’s North Korean Nuclear Affairs Bureau Kim Gunn, Japanese Deputy Director General of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and US Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks Sydney Seiler meet in Tokyo to discuss next steps on North Korea’s denuclearization.

: Ninth China-ASEAN senior officials meeting on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) is held in Tianjin to discuss a code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

: Ministers from TPP countries meet in Hawaii to finalize negotiations. Outstanding issues include access to Canada’s agricultural market, Australia’s concerns about US pharmaceutical patent rules, Vietnam’s ability to meet rules-of-origin requirements, and labor rights in Mexico and Vietnam.

: US State Department releases its 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report, assessing government efforts around the world to combat modern slavery.

: US Special Envoy for Six-Party Talks Sydney Seiler travels to Seoul, Beijing, and Tokyo for meetings with senior officials on North Korea policy.

: Chinese Navy conducts military training in the waters east of Hainan Island in the South China Sea. During the training, “no vessel is allowed to enter the designated maritime areas,” according to China’s Maritime Safety Administration.

: Japanese Cabinet approves the Defense Ministry’s white paper for 2015, which gives significant attention to “China’s military threat.”

: US and Singapore conduct 21st annual CARAT Singapore naval exercise.

: Myanmar’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) announces that it will participate in the parliamentary elections scheduled for Nov. 8 even though party opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will not be eligible to serve as president.

: Fifteenth Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit and fifth BRICS Summit is held in Ufa, Russia.

: Five-member tribunal hearing Manila’s case against Beijing’s South China Sea claims at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague holds a hearing on preliminary jurisdiction and admissibility of claims.

: Vietnam’s Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong travels to the US and meets President Barack Obama.

: US and Australia conduct sixth Talisman Sabre (TS2015) biennial military exercise involving nearly 30,000 personnel. Forty Japanese also participate in the exercise.

: ASEAN Secretariat announces during meeting in Kuala Lumpur that the group will create a fund to aid regional countries that host the victims of human trafficking. US State Department and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees also participate in the meeting.

: In its annual rebuttal to US accusations of human rights violations by the US State Department, Beijing issues its own report and accuses the US of being “haunted by spreading guns” and racial discrimination.

: US hosts the seventh trilateral dialogue with India and Japan in Honolulu to exchange views on a broad range of regional and global issues of mutual interest.

: US State Department releases its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in 2014, detailing human rights abuses in several Asian countries.

: US Congress renews trade promotion authority for the president more commonly referred to as “fast track” or TPA, which is seen as needed to finalize negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

: Seventh meeting of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) is held in Washington, DC.

: Philippines and Japan hold second joint naval maneuvers of the year in the South China Sea.

: US and Philippines conduct their 21st annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines military exercise.

: Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh co-host the eighth meeting of the China-Vietnam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation in China.

: Zhou Yongkang, the former secretary of China’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission and a member of the 17th Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee is sentenced to life in prison for bribery, abuse of power, and leaking state secrets.

: Anonymous US officials suggest that China may have been behind a massive US government data breach in April 2015. Chinese officials call the allegations “counterproductive” and “irresponsible.”

: Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Fan Changlong visits the US with stops at a Boeing aircraft factory and several military installations. He also meets Defense Secretary Carter in Washington.

: Secretary of Defense Carter visits India, meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar.

: Philippines President Benigno Aquino visits Japan and meets Prime Minister Abe. They agree to initiate talks on a framework for the transfer of defense equipment and technology and to discuss a visiting forces agreement for Japanese Self-Defense Force personnel visiting the Philippines to facilitate joint training and exercises.

: Secretary of Defense Carter pays an official visit to Vietnam and meets Minister of Defense Phung Quang Thanh; they sign a joint vision statement.

: Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng and South Korean Trade Minister Yoon Sang-jick sign a bilateral FTA in Seoul.

: Thai government hosts summit with more than 20 nations and international organizations participating to seek solutions to the crisis of asylum seekers fleeing Bangladesh and Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

: US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim says at a media briefing in Beijing that China agrees that “pressure” should be a part of its policy on North Korea, and the US believes that China is fully implementing sanctions on North Korea.

: Shangri-La Dialogue is held in Singapore.

: US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter meets Philippine Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin in Hawaii, discussing security issues in the South China Sea and reaching an agreement to hold a 2-plus-2 assistant secretary-level meeting as soon as possible.

: China issues a white paper on its military strategy, stressing “active defense” and pledging closer international security cooperation.

: The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Disaster Relief Exercises (DiREx) 2015 convenes in Malaysia and is co-chaired by Beijing and Kuala Lumpur. The discussion focuses on regional coordination and cooperation on disaster relief mechanisms.

: The lead negotiators to the Six-Party Talks from the US, Japan, and South Korea meet in Seoul to consult on ways to make substantive progress in North Korea’s nuclear issues at all levels, including deterrence, pressure and dialogue.

: China lodges a complaint with the US over the US Navy P-8A Poseidon that flew over parts of the Spratly Islands on May 20.

: Vietnamese Defense Minister Phùng Quang Thanh visits India and meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar.

: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak visits Japan and meets Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. They sign the Japan-Malaysia Joint Statement on Strategic Partnership.

: Naval forces from Singapore and China conduct inaugural Exercise Maritime Cooperation, described by Singapore’s Ministry of Defense as a “milestone in the bilateral defence relationship.” The exercise involves conventional naval warfare serials, such as gunnery firings and maneuvering drills.

: US Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft conducts overflights in the region of the Spratly Islands. Chinese Navy repeatedly warns the aircraft to depart the airspace.

: Foreign ministries of Indonesia and Malaysia agree to provide up to a year of humanitarian assistance and shelter for as many as 7,000 Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants left adrift in Southeast Asian waters.

: US Pacific Command hosts defense leaders from 23 countries (excluding China) in Hawaii at the inaugural Pacific Command Amphibious Landing Symposium (PALS).

: Secretary of State John Kerry visits China and South Korea.

: Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Vietnam, Indonesia, and Myanmar.

: Third China-Japan-ROK Counterterrorism Consultation meeting held in Beijing.

: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits China and South Korea.

: Chief negotiators for the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries meet in Guam.

: Two Japanese destroyers and one of the Philippines’ newest warships conduct maneuvers involving maritime domain awareness, search and rescue, and disaster response.

: Seventh round of negotiations on a trilateral free trade agreement (FTA) among China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea is held in Seoul.

: North Korea announces it successfully fired a ballistic missile from a submarine.

: Japanese and Philippine coast guards conduct joint anti-piracy exercises in the Philippines.

: Meeting on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank annual meeting, the 18th ASEAN Plus Three Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting (AFMGM + 3) is held in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Date Range