Regional Overview

Chronology from May 2019 to Aug 2019

: Culture and tourism ministers of South Korea, Japan and China meet in Incheon and agree to increase cultural, sports and people-to-people exchanges despite tensions over trade and their shared history.

: In a meeting with China’s Chairman Xi in Beijing, Philippine President Duterte raises the 2016 ruling on China’s 9-dash line in the South China Sea. Xi reiterates “China’s refusal to recognize the arbitral ruling.”

: USS Wayne E. Meyer sails near Fiery Cross and Mischief Reef “to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways governed by international law.”

: Indonesian President Joko Widodo announces that Indonesia will relocate its capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.

: North Korea launches its seventh projectile test since July 25. Korean Central News Agency reports the successful test of a “super-large multiple rocket launcher.”

: South Korea notifies Japan that it will withdraw from the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).

: US State Department approves $8 billion arms sale comprising 66 F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan.

: North Korea test-fires two short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, “the sixth launch of projectiles by the country since July 25.”

: Leaders of the 18 member countries convene in Tuvalu for the 50th meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum and issue the Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now immediately following the session.

: South Korea downgrades Japan from “most trusted status” to a newly established category, citing Tokyo’s violations of “the basic principles of the international export control regime.”

: North Korea launches “the fifth round of launches by Pyongyang in just over two week,” sending two short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan.

: UN sanctions committee on North Korea releases a report showing DPRK-directed cyberattacks have raised to date $2 billion in funds to support its WMD programs.

: South Korea’s military reports that two “short-range ballistic missiles” were launched by North Korea into the Sea of Japan.

: US and South Korea hold joint-military exercises Dong Maeng 19-2, a “scaled-back combined command post exercise” that is executed primarily through computer simulations.

: India’s Home Minister announces the decision to abolish Article 370 of the constitution, removing Kashmir’s special status.

: US Treasury Department formally accuses China of “manipulating its currency.”

: Secretary of State Pompeo visits Pohnpei, the first official visit by a sitting secretary of State to the Federated States of Micronesia.

: Secretary of State Pompeo and Defense Secretary Esper meet Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Defense Minister Linda Reynolds in Sydney for the 29th Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations “to deepen economic, security, and strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and globally.”

: The 26th ASEAN Regional Forum is held in Bangkok.

: The 20th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers Meeting is held in Bangkok.

: South Korea’s military detects two short-range missiles fired from North Korea’s East Coast into the East Sea.

: Japan’s Cabinet votes to remove South Korea from its export “white list.” President Moon threatens countermeasures, including reconsidering renewal of its military information-sharing deal with Japan.

: US formally withdraws from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

: Japan’s Foreign Ministry calls Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Iturup island in the South Kurils “extremely regrettable.”

: US Defense Secretary Esper makes his first official trip to Asia with stops in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Mongolia, and South Korea.

: North Korea test-fires two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea.

: Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin files a diplomatic protest against China after over 100 Chinese fishing vessels were recorded around Philippines’ claimed Pag-asa (Thitu) Island.

: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen commits $40 million to weapons purchases from China “to strengthen the army.”

: North Korea test-fires two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea.

: China’s State Council Information Office releases the 10th defense white paper, China’s National Defense in the New Era.

: USS Antietam conducts “a routine Taiwan Strait transit” to demonstrate “the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

: US Department of Justice indicts Dandong Industrial Development Co., its owner Ma Xiaohong, and three managers on charges of conspiracy to evade US sanctions in engaging with North Korean companies developing nuclear weapons.

: Russia and China fly a joint patrol over the East China Sea. South Korea fires warning shots at two Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers, two Chinese H-6 bombers, a Russia A-50 early warning plane, and a Chinese KJ-2000 after they enter the Korean Air Defense Identification Zone. Japan lodges official complaints against Russia and China for violating its airspace.

: China’s State Council Information Office publishes a white paper to justify its treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, positing that they became Muslim by force of “religious wars and the ruling class.”

: US Department of State calls on China to “cease its bullying behavior” in coercing ASEAN members from pursuing oil and gas activities in the South China Sea.

: Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry accuses Chinese oil survey vessel, Haiyang Dizhi 8, of having undertaken activities that “violated Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf,” in the South China Sea.

: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen tours the US and Caribbean on her “Journey of Freedom, Democracy and Sustainability.” Tsai stops in New York City for two nights on her way to visit Caribbean allies Haiti, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Lucia. She stops in Denver on her way back to Taiwan.

: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Stilwell makes his first official trip to Asia. He stops first in Japan before continuing to the Philippines where he leads the US delegation in the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue. He stops in South Korea on July 17 and concludes his tour in Thailand.

: US Department of State approves $2.2 billion arms sale to Taiwan including 108 Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger missiles. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on the US to “immediately cancel” the sale and cease undermining “China’s sovereignty and security interests.”

: China’s Defense Ministry denies launching anti-ship missiles during recent exercise in the South China Sea, claiming drills “involved the firing of live ammunition.” Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson responds to China’s exercises by referencing the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and that any activities should serve “regional peace, security, stability and cooperation.”

: JS Izumo returns to Japan following a two-month extended naval deployment in the Indo-Pacific that included joint cooperation exercises with the US and other allies.

: Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announces it will restrict the export of “high-tech materials” to South Korea beginning July 4. South Korea’s Ministry of Trade seeks “stern measures” against Japan in response.

: President Trump visits South Korea. He and President Moon “reaffirm” the US-ROK alliance, describing it as “the linchpin of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific.” Trump shakes hands with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un at the Demilitarized Zone and agrees to continue negotiations with North Korea.

: The 14th meeting of the G20 convenes in Osaka, where leaders discuss trade tensions, WTO reforms, information security, climate change and migration.

: Prime Minister Abe and Chairman Xi Jinping meet ahead of the G20 summit and agree to collaborate on “free, fair trade,” elevate their countries’ relationship “to the next level,” and confirm Xi’s state visit to Japan next spring. President Moon Jae-in also meets Xi to discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Xi’s recent visit to Pyongyang, and bilateral cooperation. President Trump and Xi agree to a tentative truce ahead of negotiations during the G20 Summit.

: US, Japan, and Australia announce jointly financed $1 billion LNG project in Papua New Guinea.

: US State Department condemns China’s “intense persecution” of religious faiths, particularly in Xinjiang, in its 2018 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.

: Japan’s Ministry of Defense and South Korea’s Air Force each cite two Russian military aircraft violating their air defense identification zones (ADIZ).

: Chairman Xi travels to Pyongyang to meet Chairman Kim Jong Un. Xi promises to play a “positive and constructive role” in denuclearization and urges the continuation of US-DPRK talks, while Kim states that North Korea will “remain patient” despite “parties that have failed to respond positively” to negotiations.

: Southeast Asian leaders meet in Bangkok for the 34th ASEAN summit. They adopt a joint declaration to combat plastic pollution in oceans and release statements regarding regional economic and security collaboration, the de-escalation of tensions in the South China Sea, and investigations into human rights violations in Myanmar.

: South Korea’s Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Lee Do-hoon meets US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun in Washington DC to discuss ways to facilitate the resumption of US-North Korea dialogue.

: US Department of Treasury blacklists Russian Financial Society for allegedly aiding North Korea in sanctions evasion.

: President Rodrigo Duterte calls the sinking of a Philippine fishing boat by a Chinese vessel “just a collision,” warning against military action toward China.

: Protesters demand Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s resignation. Lam apologizes for “deficiencies in the Government’s work” regarding the extradition bill that spurred the largest protests in Hong Kong since 1997.

: US Senate confirms David Stilwell to be the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific. The position had been vacant since 2017.

: US submits report to the UN Security Council’s North Korea Sanctions Committee blaming North Korea for breaching a UN-imposed cap on fuel imports through illicit ship-to-ship transfers.

: US Coast Guard (USCG) announces the deployment of cutters Bertholf and Stratton with the Navy’s Seventh Fleet in Yokosuka on the rationale that they will aid “law enforcement and capacity-building in the fisheries enforcement realm” in the Western Pacific.

: Chinese vessel sinks a Filipino fishing boat near Reed Bank and leaves the 22 Filipino crewmen stranded until they are rescued by a Vietnamese fishing boat.

: Two million people protest a bill that would allow China to extradite Hong Kong citizens and foreign nationals. On June 15 Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspends the bill after pushing for its approval.

: Thailand’s Parliament elects PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to remain in office.

: Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping visits Russia to attend the 23rd St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The two sides agree to upgrade bilateral ties to a “comprehensive strategic partnership,” sign more than $20 billion of deals in technology and energy to boost economic ties, and present themselves as champions of free trade and globalization.

: Acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan and South Korean Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong Doo formally terminate the Freedom Guardian joint military exercises that were first suspended last year to reduce military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

: China’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe defends the use of force against protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and its “vocational training centres” in Xinjiang as integral to ensuring that Chinese citizens “enjoy secure and stable lives” in his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue.

: China releases a white paper on economic and trade talks with the US, refuting the efficacy of the US tariffs and blaming the dissolution of the negotiation process on it.

: US Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan presents the Indo-Pacific Strategy Report at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore and identifies the region as the “priority theater” for the US.

: Narendra Modi is sworn in for a second term as India’s prime minister following a general election in which his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 303 of 542 parliamentary seats.

: Amnesty International releases report that chronicles seven unlawful attacks by the Tatmadaw against civilians in Rakhine state since the Jan. 4 attacks by the Arakan Army (AA) on police.

: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte visits Tokyo to deliver a keynote address at the 25th International Conference on The Future of Asia. Duterte also meets Prime Minster Abe to discuss “trade, investment and growing Chinese activity in disputed regional seas.”

: Taiwan confirms that its National Security Council Secretary General David Lee met US national security adviser John Bolton during Lee’s May 13-21 visit to the US. It’s the first exchange between top security officials of both governments since 1979.

: President Trump visits Japan and meets Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, is presented as the first foreign guest of Japan’s new emperor, confirms Japan’s purchase of 105 F-35 fighter jets, and visits US service members on the USS Wasp at Yokosuka naval base.

: Navies from the US, Japan, South Korea, and Australia launch the inaugural Pacific Vanguard exercise off Guam “to conduct cooperative maritime training.” Over 3,000 sailors take part in drills including “combined maneuvers, live fire exercises, defense counter-air operations, anti-submarine warfare, and replenishment at sea.”

: USS Preble and USNS Walter S. Diehl transit the Taiwan Strait to demonstrate “the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.” China issues “stern representations” against the US in reaction.

: USS Preble conducts a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea “to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law.”

: USS William P. Lawrence joins JS Izumo and JS Marusame for a “cooperative naval deployment” in the Malacca Strait to improve communication and interoperability between the US Navy and Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF).

: USS William P. Lawrence participates in naval exercise La Perouse with five other vessels from France, Japan, and Australia in the Bay of Bengal. The exercise includes “sailing in formation, live-fire drills, communications, search and rescue, damage control and personnel transfers.”

: President Trump issues an executive order, banning the transfer of technology with “foreign adversaries.” US Department of Commerce adds Huawei and its affiliates to the “Entity List,” banning the purchase of “parts and components from US companies without US government approval.”

: US Coast Guard cutter Bertholf practices search-and-rescue exercises with Philippines Coast Guard vessels BRP Batangas and BRP Kalanggaman near Scarborough Shoal.

: China announces that it will raise tariffs on $60 billion of US goods currently taxed between 5 and 10% up to 25% beginning on June 1. This includes commodities like “animal products, frozen fruits and vegetables,” as well as “baking condiments, chemicals and vodka.”

: North Korea test-launches two short-range ballistic missiles that land in the East Sea. They are the first ballistic weapons the country has tested since November 2017.

: US seizes the Wise Honest, North Korea’s second largest cargo ship, which is accused of violating international sanctions by transporting coal and heavy machinery to North Korea.

: The 11th round of US, Japan, South Korea Defense Trilateral Talks (DTT) is held in Seoul to discuss regional security issues.

: China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues “stern representations” against the US in response to the unanimous passing of a non-binding resolution reaffirming support for Taiwan and the Taiwan Assurance Act of 2019 in the House of Representatives.

: Chinese Vice Premier Liu He meets US Special Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for the 11th round of trade talks in Washington DC. The talks conclude without a formal agreement and the Trump administration increases tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports from 10 to 25%.

: US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun visits Tokyo and Seoul to meet South Korean and Japanese officials.

: China protests the passage of the USS Preble and USS Chung-Hoon near the Spratly Islands the same day, claiming the ships traveled within 12 nm of its territory without permission. Officials also denounce the Pentagon’s 2019 report on China’s military power, saying it aims to “distort our strategic intentions and paint China as a threat.”

: Japanese Defense Minister Iwaya Takeshi visits Vietnam and meets Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi. They agree to strengthen defense cooperation and sign an MOU to promote defense industry exchanges.

: Six naval vessels from the US, Japan, the Philippines, and India conduct a military exercise in the South China Sea including “formation exercises, communication drills, passenger transfers” and a leadership exchange on board the JS Izumo helicopter destroyer.

Date Range