Regional Overview

Chronology from May 2016 to Aug 2016

: North Korea test-fires a submarine-launched missile in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) that reportedly travels 300 miles, much further than previous similar tests.

: Foreign ministers from China, South Korea, and Japan meet in Tokyo.

: ROK and US Combined Forces Command (CFC) conduct annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercise.

: Fifteenth annual Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) military exercise with naval forces from Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and the United States is held with the Singapore Navy’s Multinational Operations and Exercises Center (MOEC) as the main coordinating center.

: Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi visits China and meets Premier Li Keqiang, President Xi Jinping, and other senior officials.

: North Korea’s Atomic Energy Institute says it has resumed plutonium production by reprocessing spent fuel rods and has no plans to stop nuclear tests as long as perceived US threats remain.  It also states that it has been producing highly enriched uranium necessary for nuclear arms and power “as scheduled.”

: The 13th Senior Officials Meeting on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) is held in Manzhouli, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

: Japan summons Chinese diplomats to protest after six Chinese Coast Guard vessels, three of which reportedly armed with gun batteries, approached the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, accompanying a fleet of 230 Chinese fishing boats.

: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visits the US and meets President Barack Obama. The visit coincides with the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations, and is the first official visit to the US by a Singapore prime minister since 1985.

: North Korea fires two mid-range Rodong ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan (East Sea) with one reportedly landing in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

: Japan issues annual defense white paper. China expresses opposition, saying the document is hostile to China’s military and deceptive to the international community.

: The 17th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers Meeting is held in Vientiane.

: The 23rd ASEAN Regional Forum, the sixth East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting, and the Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial Meeting are held in Vientiane.

: ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and Post Ministerial Conference are held in Vientiane. After considerable discussion, the ministers issue a joint communiqué.

: Malcolm Turnbull is sworn in for another term as Australia’s prime minister.

: North Korea fires three ballistic missiles from the western city of Hwangju, which fly 500-600km toward the East Sea (Sea of Japan).

: Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay states that the Philippines rejected a Chinese offer to hold talks “outside of and in disregard” of an international tribunal’s ruling that rejects Beijing’s claim to ownership of virtually the entire South China Sea.

: The11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is held in Ulaanbataar. ASEM is an informal dialogue process involving 51 countries from Asia and Europe and two organizations—ASEAN Secretariat and the European Union.

: US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, ROK First Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam, and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Sugiyama Shinsuke meet in Hawaii for the fourth round of deputy-level trilateral consultations on “shared regional and global priorities.”

: Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin announces the issuance of a white paper on the South China Sea and says the decision to establish an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the disputed waters will depend on its threat perception in the region.

: Chinese commercial jets land for the first time on newly built runways at Subi Reef (China: Zhubi, Philippines: Zamora; Vietnam: Da Xu Bi) and Mischief Reef (China: Meiji, Philippines: Panganiban, Vietnam: Da Vanh Khan).

:   UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration issues an award in the Philippines v. China case over the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea.

: US and South Korea reach agreement to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system with the US military stationed in South Korea to counter North Korea’s missile threat. China and Russia protest the decision.

: US imposes sanctions on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un along with 10 other top officials and five state agencies over human rights abuses. North Korea responds by stating that the sanctions are tantamount to a declaration of war.

: China conducts military exercises near the Paracel Islands (China: Xisha) and announces that civilian vessels would be prohibited from entering the area for the duration.

: Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world’s largest international maritime exercise, is held around the Hawaiian Islands and off the Southern California coast.

: North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) appoints Kim Jong Un as chairman of a newly-created state apparatus, tentatively named the commission on state affairs.

: South Korea, Japan, and the United States conduct a joint missile defense exercise off the coast of Hawaii. This is the first joint military training exercise involving the three countries focused on tracking and defending against North Korean missile launches.

: North Korea proposes a conference with South Korea to discuss reunification of the Korean nation and peace on the Korean Peninsula. Seoul refuses to accept the invitation saying North Korea should take action to denuclearize first.

: UN Security Council rebukes North Korea for its latest missile tests, calling for redoubled enforcement of sanctions imposed after the DPRK’s fourth nuclear test.

: The 16th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Heads of State Meeting is held in Tashkent.

: Indonesian President Joko Widodo holds a Cabinet meeting aboard a warship off the Natuna Islands asserting sovereignty over waters in the southern portion of the South China Sea after Beijing states its “over-lapping claim” on nearby waters.

: North Korea launches two mid-range (Musudan-type) ballistic missiles from its east coast. Kim Jong Un hails the tests as successful and they represent a direct threat to US military bases in the Pacific.

: Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD) is held in Beijing.

: Indonesian Navy arrests and detains a Chinese fishing boat and seven crew members over illegal fishing near the Natuna Islands.

: Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers Meeting is held in Kunming, China. Following the meeting, the ASEAN minister issued a communiqué expressing serious concerns over recent and ongoing developments that “have the potential to undermine peace, security and stability in the South China Sea.” Shortly after, the communiqué is retracted.

: US, Japan, and India conduct joint naval exercise Malabar in the Philippine Sea near the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.

: ASEAN-China Joint Working Group on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea convenes in Vietnam. The meeting focuses on drafting guidelines for a regional hotline on urgent contingency events at sea, as well as a joint statement on the implementation of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.

: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that the North Korean reprocessing plant at the Yongbyon Nuclear Complex has resumed operations.

: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the US and meets President Barack Obama and addresses a joint session of the US Congress.

: The sixth US-China Strategic Security Dialogue (SSD) and eighth US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) are held in Beijing.

: Shangri-La Dialogue is held in Singapore.

: Kim Hong-kyun, South Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, Sung Kim, US special representative for North Korea policy, and Ishikane Kimihiro, director general for Asian and Oceanian affairs at Japan’s Foreign Ministry meet in Tokyo to continue trilateral coordination on North Korea policy.

: US Treasury designates North Korea as a primary money launderer, saying that it would seek to cut off from the US financial system any bank or company that conducts banking transactions with the North.

: President Obama visits Japan to attend the G7 Summit and tour the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, becoming the first sitting US president to do so.

: Forty-second G7 Summit is held in Ise-Shima Japan.

: The 10th ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting is held in Vientiane. The Joint Declaration highlights ASEAN countries’ commitment to promoting regional peace and security.

: US President Barack Obama visits Vietnam to discuss the US-Vietnam comprehensive partnership. He is accompanied by Secretary of State Kerry.

: ASEAN-Russia Summit is held in Sochi, Russia.

: US Navy destroyer USS William P. Lawrence sails within 12nm zone near Fiery Cross Reef (China: Yongshu; Philippines: Kagitingin; Vietnam: Da Chu) to “challenge excessive maritime claims of some claimants in the South China Sea.”

: Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi visits Indonesia and Malaysia. In Indonesia, he attends the second meeting of China-Indonesia High-level Economic Dialogue. In Malaysia Yang meets Foreign Minister Anifah Aman.

: North Korea holds its first Workers’ Party (WPK) Congress since 1980. Kim Jong Un is elected as chairman of the WPK.

:   Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines agree to conduct coordinated maritime patrols in the Sulu and Celebes seas to combat piracy and ship hijacking in the region.

: Lao President Bounnhang Vorachit visits China and meets President Xi Jinping.

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