Regional Overview

Chronology from May 2020 to Aug 2020

: Esper visits Palau and meets President Tommy Remengesau.

: Taiwan President Tsai announces that she would ease restrictions on imports of beef and pork from the US.

: Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo announces he will resign because of chronic health problems.

: Esper delivers speech at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies on countering China’s “malign strategy.”

: US Commerce Department blacklists 24 Chinese companies and targeted individuals over their “role in helping the Chinese military construct and militarize the internationally condemned artificial islands in the South China Sea.”

: US and Chinese trade negotiators have phone talks and affirm progress in implementation of their trade deal.

: State Department issues a statement marking third anniversary of the Tatmadaw’s attack on a large group of Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, noting that 860,000 Rohingya who fled remain in camps in Bangladesh.

: Japanese FM Motegi meets Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw and they agree to reopen borders for long-term residents.

: China-based video sharing app TikTok sues US government for banning its service in the US, and demands annulment of the president’s executive orders.

: Philippines lodges a diplomatic protest over China’s illegal confiscation of fish aggregating devices from Filipino fisherman at the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.

: State Department notifies Hong Kong that Washington has suspended or terminated three bilateral agreements following China’s imposition of a national security law.

: 27th iteration of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises is held, with 10 of 25 invited nations participating. The Philippines and Singapore are the only Southeast Asian participants, which are at-sea-only because of the pandemic. The US Navy and partner nations wrap up RIMPAC 2020 with the sinking of a decommissioned amphibious cargo vessel.

: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks with Pompeo about Russia’s proposed video summit at the United Nations to discuss Iran.

: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern postpones general elections to October 17 as Auckland remains in lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.

: Photo of Chinese ambassador to Kiribati walking across the backs of local children goes viral, setting off controversy. Many i-Kiribati defend the practice as a local custom rather than a symbol of Chinese dominance, though other diplomats, including from Australia, say they have never participated in such a custom.

: India announces a $500 million package to fund a project in the Maldives. Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar says the plan will link Male to the islands of Villingili, Gulhifahu, and Thilagushi in the largest civilian infrastructure project in the Maldives.

: Japanese FM Motegi meets Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in Singapore and they agree to ease travel restrictions implemented in response to COVID 19.

: Pompeo calls on European countries to rally against the Chinese Communist Party. Pompeo gives speech at the Czech Senate and says, “What’s happening now isn’t Cold War 2.0,” adding “The challenge of resisting the CCP threat is in some ways much more difficult.”

: Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu says that arrests of Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow and media tycoon Jimmy Lai raise questions about freedom of speech and the press in Hong Kong.

: China imposes sanctions on 11 US citizens, including six Republican lawmakers and other individuals at nonprofit and rights groups who Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian says “behaved egregiously on Hong Kong-related issues.”

: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai is arrested under new national security law.

: US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar meets Taiwan President Tsai in Taipei.

: Russian President Vladimir Putin announces that Russia is the first country to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine.

: US imposes sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the current and former police chiefs, and eight top officials for curtailing political freedoms in the territory.

: Vietnam lodges protests against China’s recent military drills near the Parcel and Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper calls Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe and expresses concerns about Beijing’s destabilizing activity near Taiwan and the South China Sea.

: Pompeo announces the expansion of the Clean Network program aimed at removing Chinese technology companies from US telecommunications networks and app stores.

: Australian PM Morrison attends Aspen Security Forum and says that building an Indo-Pacific alliance is a critical priority for his government.

: Thailand army suspends plans for joint training abroad with the US military after nine Thai soldiers test positive for coronavirus after returning from Lightning Forge 2020 training in Hawaii.

: President Trump announces he will ban Chinese App TikTok in the US.

: China rejects charges that hackers linked to its government targeted biotech firm Moderna Inc.

: Treasury Department blacklists Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), along with former XPCC party secretary Sun Jinlong, and XPCC deputy party secretary and commander Peng Jiarui over accusations they are connected to human rights abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

: Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation holds subcommittee hearing on “The China Challenge: Realignment of US Economic Policies to Build Resiliency and Competitiveness.”

: Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui dies. He is mourned as a hero of Taiwan’s democracy.

: European Union imposes sanctions on China over its treatment of Hong Kong.

: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte asks Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping for help getting access to a coronavirus vaccine and credit to purchase the vaccine.

: China orders US to shut down its Chengdu consulate in response to the closure of its Houston consulate.

:   Pompeo tells US-India Business Council’s India Ideas Summit that the “Quad is revived.”

: Australia declares that China’s claims in the South China Sea have no legal basis under international law.

: Pompeo delivers a speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum entitled “Communist China and the Free Worlds’ Future.”

: US orders China to shut down its Houston consulate.

: Britain suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong. The UK also places an arms embargo on the territory, banning exports on riot gear which could be used to suppress protests.

: US Justice Department announces charges against two suspected Chinese hackers. The 11-count indictment accuses Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi of a hacking campaign that targeted companies and NGOs and stole intellectual property and trade secrets.

: US conducts simultaneous Quad-related naval exercises in the Indian Ocean and Philippine Sea.

: China launches Shiyan-6 marine research vessel to boost exploration activities, including in the South China Sea.

: Russia tests anti-satellite weapon, launching a projectile from an orbiting satellite.

: Department of State imposes visa restrictions on certain employees of Chinese technology companies that provide material support to regimes engaging in human rights abuses globally.

: China books biggest single-day US corn purchase as it tries to meet trade deal commitments.

: Trump signs into law the “Hong Kong Autonomy Act” and an Executive Order on “Hong Kong Normalization,” eliminating Hong Kong’s special status.

: US State Department issues a lengthy statement on the US position on maritime claims in the South China Sea, sharply calling out Beijing for its claims and “bullying” there.

: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin wins a motion to remove the speaker of Parliament and replace the Speaker with his own candidate.

: Pompeo announces formal rejection of “most” of China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea.

: China’s Foreign Ministry announces retaliatory sanctions against US officials, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), over Xinjiang sanctions.

: State Department warns Americans of heightened detention risks in China, including detention and a ban from exiting the country.

: Singapore holds 13th general elections, which are won by the People’s Action Party, albeit by a narrower margin than usual.

: People’s Action Party retain power in Singapore election.

: WHO sends advance team to China to organize investigation into origins of COVID 19.

: Australia suspends extradition arrangement with Hong Kong following China’s passage of new national security law.

: Trump administration imposes visa and asset sanctions on several Chinese officials for their role in human rights violations of Uighurs in Xinjiang.

: State Department authorizes the repair and recertification of Patriot missiles (PAC-3) to Taiwan for an estimated cost of $620 million.

: FBI Director Christopher Wray delivers speech at the Hudson Institute entitled “The Threat Posed by the Chinese Government and the Chinese Communist Party to the Economic and National Security of the United States.

: Australia upgrades travel warning for China. Canberra claims its citizens entering China may be at risk of arbitrary detention.

: Seoul Central District Court rules that Kim Jong Un must pay more than $35,000 in damages to two former prisoners of war detained in North Korea.

: Koike Yuriko wins second term as governor of Tokyo.

: Japan  passes revised state secrets law that allows exchanges with partners such as India, Australia, and the UK as well as existing exchange with the US, making it easier to share data on Chinese movements. It also allows Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense and supply fuel and ammunition to other militaries in situations that pose a threat to Japan.

: Beijing appoints Zhen Yanxiong as director of new national security office in Hong Kong.

: Vietnam and the Philippines criticize Chinese military drills in disputed area of the South China Sea, near the Paracel Islands.

: Hanoi sends a diplomatic note to Beijing protesting Chinese naval drills off the Paracel Islands, which China has held since 1974 but which Vietnam also claims.

: India bans dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok and WeChat, citing cybersecurity concerns.

: Chinese government asks US media outlets to submit information about their Chinese operations. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian named the Associated Press, National Public Radio, CBS and United Press International news agency as companies asked to submit information within seven days.

: Department of State imposes visa restrictions on Chinese Communist Party officials for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and restricting human rights.

: US Senate unanimously passes Hong Kong Autonomy Act  to punish China for impositions on democracy in Hong Kong. The act will sanction businesses and individuals that impose on Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms.

: Australian intelligence services raid home of an elected Labor Party member Shaoquett Moselmane following allegations of foreign interference from China.

: National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien delivers a speech on China in Phoenix, Arizona entitled “The Chinese Communist Party’s Ideology and Global Ambitions.

: China occupies Rui village in Nepal.

: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announces election for July 10th.

: Chinese Air Force jets briefly enter Taiwan’s air defense identification zone and are warned to leave via radio and patrolling Taiwanese fighters.

: Department of State designates Chinese media entities, including China Central Television, China News Service, People’s Daily, and Global Times, as foreign missions.

: Kiribati re-elects its pro-China president, who defeats a challenger who pledged to recognize Taiwan.

: Pompeo delivers a speech at the Virtual Copenhagen Democracy Summit entitled “Europe and the China Challenge.”

: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison calls attention to ongoing series of hacking cases by a sophisticated foreign state actor. Australian government agencies believe China is behind the attacks.

: Secretary of State Pompeo meets senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in Honolulu.

: //">announces it will set up office to help those thinking of leaving Hong Kong.

: North Korea detonates the inter Korean Liaison office. Sources inside the regime say it is part of an effort by Leader Kim Jong Un’s sister to boost her revolutionary credentials

: Beijing experiences a second mutated strain of COVID-19.

: Rappler founder Maria Ressa is convicted of cyber libel in the Philippines. The verdict is seen as a blow to press freedom.

: 20 Indian soldiers are killed in border clash with Chinese troops in the Galwan valley.

: China closes areas of Beijing in response to fears of COVID 19 resurgence.

: China annexes 60 square km of land claimed by India in Ladakh.

: China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism issues travel warning urging Chinese citizens not to travel to Australia due to a rise in racial discrimination and violence against Chinese and Asian people there.

: Korea and US reach a new cost-sharing agreement for funding local employees at US bases in the country

: India and Australia sign maritime peace operation agreement.

: Boris Johnson pledges to give nearly 3 million Hong Kong citizens the right to live and work in the UK if China enacts new security legislation for the territory.

: Philippines advises the US that it has frozen the process to cancel the bilateral Visiting Forces Agreement for a period of six months. Unless action is taken otherwise, the Philippines intends to abrogate the agreement at the end of the year.

: Following China’s imposition of new national security laws on Hong Kong, the US announces it will eliminate policy exemptions on the enclave because it is “no longer sufficiently autonomous.”

: Trump announces at a press conference that his administration “will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory from the rest of China.”

: China sends 5,000 troops to its Indian border in show of strength amidst growing tensions. Both sides claim the other transgressed their boundaries.

:  Senators Jim Inhofe and Jack Reed, in a joint War on the Rocks commentary, propose the establishment of a Pacific Deterrence Initiative.

: China’s National People’s Conference officially passes security bill which critics fear will undermine civil liberties in Hong Kong.

: Nepal shelves plans to redraw its national map to include areas claimed by India.

: Trump offers to mediate China-India border dispute as tensions rise.

: Policy makers and politicians from 23 countries condemn China for proposing new set of security laws for Hong Kong.

: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi calls for more cooperation with the US to manage the global impact of the coronavirus and limit the global economic fallout.

: US littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords and Singaporean frigate RSS Steadfast conduct bilateral exercises on the South China Sea to enhance interoperability between the two navies.

: China proposes new national security legislation for Hong Kong that many fear will essentially end the “one country two systems” arrangement.

: President Tsai Ing-wen is inaugurated for second term as president of the Republic of China.

: President Trump threatens to permanently cut off WHO funding and revoke US membership if the group does not curb its purported pro-China bias.

: The Chinese embassy in Kiribati re-opens.

: The 30th round of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations are held as a virtual conference.

: A Chinese state-owned company raised concerns by looking to buy the largest mobile phone carrier in the Pacific islands Digicel, opening a new front in the fight for influence in the Pacific between China and democratic states.

: A Chinese survey ship and two coast guard vessels in the SCS leave the disputed waters after an oil exploration vessel contracted by Malaysian state energy company Petronas left the disputed waters earlier the same day.

: Indian and Chinese security forces scuffle along the disputed border at the Naku La pass.

: Myanmar military declares a three-month nationwide ceasefire, excluding areas where terrorist groups take positions.

:  Two of four China Coast Guard vessels in waters around the contested Senkaku Islands approached and chased a Japanese fishing boat, resulting in an immediate protest to the Chinese embassy in Tokyo.

: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly calls for Taiwan’s participation in the upcoming World Health Assembly as an observer.

: Scuffle between Chinese and Indian troops at border on Pangong Tso. Incident is downplayed and resolved.

: Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger delivers a speech at the University of Virginia entitled “Reflections on China’s May Fourth Movement: an American Perspective.”

: North Korean troops fire on a South Korean guardpost along the DMZ near Cheorwon.

Date Range