Regional Overview

Chronology from May 2021 to Aug 2021

: China says it opposes politicization of origins-tracing efforts or shifting blame of the COVID-19 pandemic.

: UN nuclear watchdog says it has detected “deeply troubling” indications of Yongbyon nuclear reactor operating since July, including the release of cooling water. The White House reacts to the news by stressing the “urgent need” for dialogue and diplomacy, while 38 North publishes additional evidence of the Yongbyon 5 MWe reactor’s activation, namely “a discharge of cooling water into a new outflow channel.”

: Taiwan’s government launches English-language content platform called TaiwanPlus for the world to discover Taiwan.

: North Korea appears to resume nuclear activities that are linked to the production of nuclear weapons.

: Lawmakers from Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party pledge to support Taiwan’s addition to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership during first-of-their-kind security talks with parliamentarians from Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

: Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd and Coast Guard National Security Cutter USCG Munro pass through the Taiwan Strait, marking the eighth transit of the waters this year by a US warship.

: China protests the passage of a US Navy warship and Coast Guard cutter through the Strait of Taiwan.

: The first-ever Taiwan-Japan security talks take place, largely focusing on Taiwanese chip makers’ potential investment in Japan.

: Suicide bombing at Kabul airport kills 13 US servicemen and 60 Afghans. Islamic State claims responsibility, and the bombing draws condemnation from around the world, including China.

: Navies from the US, Japan, Australia, and India begin annual Malabar maritime exercises.

: China decries the US politicization of efforts to trace the origin of the virus ahead of the release of a US intelligence report.

: While meeting with President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc in Vietnam, VP Harris urges countries in the region to apply more pressure on China.

: China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Y-20 transport plane arrives in Vietnam to deliver 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

: While in Singapore Harris sharply criticizes China’s actions in the South China Sea and insists the Indo-Pacific Strategy is “not against any one country.”

: VP Harris’ reaffirms “the United States’ commitment to working with our allies and partners around the Indo-Pacific to uphold the rules-based international order and freedom of navigation, including in the South China Sea” during a joint press conference with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

: VP Harris arrives in Singapore, at the start of a short trip to Southeast Asia.

: US Vice President Kamala Harris’s begins trip to Singapore and Vietnam to show that the United States is in the region “to stay.”

: China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi says that Afghanistan should not be used as a geopolitical battleground by the international community.

: Four student union leaders at the University of Hong Kong are arrested on suspicion of “advocating terrorism.”

: Japan’s defense ministry announces that it will seek a fiscal 2022 budget of more than ¥5.4 trillion ($49.3 billion) that could surpass the longstanding cap of 1%.

: Taiwan would not collapse like Afghanistan in the event of an attack, Premier Su Tseng-chang says on Tuesday.

: South Korea and the US start annual joint military training amid North Korea’s strong protest and threats of a serious security crisis.

: 400,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine that the US agreed to provide arrive in South Korea on Sunday, according to the US Embassy in Seoul.

: US evacuates embassy in Kabul as Taliban seizes control of the Afghani capital.

: South Korean navy commissioned its first domestically built submarine capable of launching ballistic missiles to hunt North Korean boats.

: Senior diplomats from the US, Japan, India and Australia hold another round of talks, as the Quad continues to grow closer in the face of an increasingly assertive Beijing.

: Chinese court in Dandong sentences a Canadian citizen to 11 years on a charge of espionage.

: China and Myanmar announce that they will continue to deepen bilateral economic relations. China announces that it will transfer over $6 million to Myanmar to support nearly two dozen development projects in the country.

: China’s Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Liu Jinsong meets Nepalese Ambassador to China Mahendra Bahadur Pandey.

: China said the United States is not qualified to make irresponsible remarks on the issue of the South China Sea during a UN Security Council meeting on maritime security.

: China and Russia conduct strategic exercise “West·Coordination-2021” in northwestern China.

: Nagasaki commemorates the 76th anniversary of its destruction by a US atomic bomb, with the mayor advocating to build on a new global nuclear ban treaty.

: Secretary Blinken says the US is willing to consider different “options” and “possibilities” with North Korea and calls for Pyongyang’s return to dialogue, even as a State Department official confirms that no contact between US and North Korean representatives took place as the ASEAN Regional Forum.

: South Korea decides to conduct military exercise with the US as planned despite North Korea’s warning not to proceed.

: President Biden offers temporary ‘safe haven’ to Hong Kong residents in the US.

: ASEAN appoints Erywan Yusof, one of Brunei’s top diplomats, as special envoy to Myanmar.

: Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces that the State Department has approved the sale of a new arms package to Taiwan. The package features 40 155mm M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer Systems, among other equipment.

: India deploys a naval task force to the South China Sea this month to expand security ties with friendly countries, signaling its intent to play a bigger role in the region.

: Foreign ministers of Japan and ASEAN agree on the importance of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

: Secretary Blinken initiates “strategic dialogue” between the US and Indonesia at talks in Washington with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting via video link.

: US, Japan, Australia, and UK begin US-led Large Scale Global Exercise 21.

: Germany dispatches a warship for a six-month deployment that will include a transit of the South China Sea for the first time in two decades.

: Secretary Blinken participates virtually in five virtual ASEAN-related ministerial meetings: U.S.-ASEAN, East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Mekong-U.S. Partnership, and Friends of the Mekong ministerial meetings.

: Kim Yo Jong, the sister of Kim Jong Un, warns that US-South Korea joint military exercise will damage the resolve of the two Koreas to rebuild relations.

: Myanmar’s military ruler Min Aung Hlaing promises new multi-party elections and says his government is ready to work with any special envoy from the ASEAN.

: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issues a somber state apology to the Pacific Islander community for racially targeted immigration raids in the 1970s.

: Philippines President Duterte announces decision to restore the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US. The agreement would continue to allow the rotation of thousands of US troops in and out of the Philippines for military exercises. The decision is announced during US Secretary of Defense Austin’s visit to Manila.

: Shanghai Cooperation Organization defense ministers hold their annual meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

: US destroyer USS Benfold, transits the Taiwan Strait.

: China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee takes first steps toward imposing an anti-sanctions law on Hong Kong.

: Taiwan authorities announce they are investigating a former deputy defense minister and several other serving and retired military officers over contacts with China.

: Secretary of Defense Austin says during a speech in Singapore that China’s claims over the Taiwan Strait have no basis in international law, and that the US will enhance its capabilities to deter China, consistent with its commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act and the US one-China policy.

: Secretary of Defense Austin says that the US seeks no confrontation with China but “will not flinch” during his visit in Singapore.

: Samoa’s 1st female prime minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa takes office after her predecessor Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi had been reluctant to relinquish his power.

: President Biden warns that the US could end up in a “real shooting war” with a “major power” as the result of a significant cyber-attack on the country.

: China hands the US a list of grievances and a list of red line issues but agreed to maintain communication with Washington.

: Opening ceremonies for the Summer Olympics are held in Tokyo.

: China retaliates against the July 16 US imposition of financial sanctions on officials in the Liaison Office of the Hong Kong government, imposing sanctions on seven US individuals and an entity, including former Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

: Chinese government offers indirect thank you to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen for her message of concern over devastating floods in the Chinese province of Henan.

: Deputy Secretary of State Sherman meets Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Mori Takeo and Republic of Korea First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong Kun today in Tokyo.

: Russian tanks are deployed near the Afghan-Tajik border ahead of military exercises next month and Moscow announced more drills in neighboring Uzbekistan.

: China’s President Xi tells Mongolian president that the neighbors should “support each other’s core interests and major concerns” ahead of a US official’s visit.

: Department of Justice charges four Chinese nationals who allegedly work for the Hainan State Security Department, a provincial arm of the Ministry of State Security, with hacking the computer systems of dozens of companies, universities, and government entities in the US and abroad between 2011 and 2018.

: South Korea summons the Japanese ambassador over “undiplomatic” remarks about President Moon Jae-in and the possibility of a summit during the Tokyo Olympics.

: Treasury Department adds seven people from China’s Hong Kong Liaison office to its “specially designated nationals list.”

: APEC leaders issue a statement that extensive COVID-19 immunization is a global public good and accelerating access to vaccines is essential to overcoming the pandemic.

: Chinese President Xi’s remarks at the APEC Informal Economic Leaders’ Retreat highlight China’s vaccine diplomacy and contributions to the Global South, as well as China’s commitment to strengthening regional and global trade and economic recovery through such trade initiatives as RCEP.

: Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, and Homeland Security issue a business advisory to warn US businesses of risks to their activities in Hong Kong and encourage due diligence to mitigate such risks.

: India and China agree to seek mutually acceptable solution to Western Himalayas border problem.

: Manila accuses Chinese fishing boats and trawlers of dumping raw sewage on coral reefs in the South China Sea.

: Japan’s 2021 defense white paper is released, devoting three times as much coverage to China than to the United States in outlining the defense programs of various nations.

: Secretary Blinken meets with ASEAN counterparts and reiterated Washington’s position that it will not accept China’s claims in the South China Sea.

: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern chairs an informal meeting of leaders from countries in the Asia-Pacific trade group APEC to discuss COVID-19 pandemic.

: Taiwan’s Foxconn and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co say they have reached deals to purchase 10 million doses of Germany’s BioNTech’s SE’s COVID-19 vaccine.

: China’s military says it “drove away” a US warship that illegally entered Chinese waters near the Paracel Islands.

: Vietnam receives 2 million COVID-19 vaccines donated by the US government as it battles its worst outbreak of the pandemic.

: Bangladesh has secured deals for 17.5 million more COVID-19 vaccines from the Covax international alliance and China.

: The US government adds 14 Chinese companies and other entities to its economic black list over alleged human rights abuse and high-tech surveillance in Xinjiang.

: North Korea rejects planned shipments of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine that were being organized under the Covax distribution scheme due to concerns over side effects.

: Amid growing suspicions that the COVID-19 pandemic began with a lab leak in China, a group of renowned international scientists say that coronavirus most likely came from animals rather than a laboratory leak.

: Taiwan asks the US not to cause “unnecessary speculation or misunderstanding” after the White House deleted a social media post on COVID-19 vaccine donations that included the ROC flag.

: //">rejection of efforts to establish a dialogue with the Biden administration.

: Russian FM Lavrov says ASEAN’s Five Point Consensus should be the basis to end the political crisis in Myanmar.

: Deputy Prime Minister Aso Taro states that if China were to invade Taiwan, the move could be interpreted as a threat to Japan’s survival, enabling the SDF to be deployed for collective self-defense under security laws enacted in 2015.

: US shortlists North Korea as a nation complicit in human trafficking and forced labor again.

: At Tiananmen Square, on the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party’s founding, Xi Jinping warns that Beijing will not tolerate foreign obstruction on the country’s path to becoming a superpower.

: Financial Times reports that the US and Japan have been conducting war games and joint military exercises in the event of a conflict with China over Taiwan.

: Taiwan and the United States hold bilateral trade talks on issues related to supply chains, market access for US pork producers, and vaccine production.

: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reprimands top ruling party officials for failures in anti-epidemic work.

: US State Department appoints Atul Keshap as Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) ad interim to replace Daniel Smith in New Delhi.

: Seoul approves plans to pursue a $2.6-billion “Korean Iron Dome” air defense artillery system to counter North Korea’s long range guns and missiles.

: President Xi Jinping and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin hold video conference for 20th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation Between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation.

: India deploys 50,000 soldiers to the Chinese border amid a stalemate in the disengagement process in eastern Ladakh.

: Pentagon announces that the State Department approved the sale of F-15 fighter jets and two types of missiles to the Philippines.

: Japan ratifies Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

: A senior US diplomat says that Washington no longer sees Taiwan as a problem in its relations with Beijing but as an opportunity to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.

: Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs publishes a Federal Register Notice updating its “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor” to include polysilicon produced in China.

: Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force joins the US and Sri Lanka for the first time in the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises.

: China convenes virtual conference on the Belt and Road Initiative with representatives from more than 30 countries and regional and international organizations.

: Russia commits to strengthening military ties with Myanmar’s junta through bilateral visits and arms deals.

: Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily announces it will print its last edition June 24.

: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi chairs the Asia and Pacific High-level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation via video link in Beijing.

: Singapore and Vietnam sign agreements to accelerate development of the digital economy.

: Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Curtis Wilbur, sails through the Taiwan Strait.

: Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing arrives in Moscow to attend a security conference.

: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen says he is in quarantine for 14 days and cancels scheduled talks with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

: Australia takes China’s anti-dumping duties on its wine imports to the World Trade Organization.

: Chinese Coast Guard 2301 fleet conducts a patrol in the territorial waters off the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, the sixth time since the beginning of 2021 such patrols have been publicly announced.

: Hong Kong police arrest pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper’s five editors and executives under Hong Kong’s national security law.

: At the ADMM Plus meeting, China’s defense minister refers to the South China Sea as a “core interest,” saying “On issues related to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and the South China Sea, China is determined to safeguard the country’s core interests.”

: Draft of Japan’s Defense 2021 white paper states, for the first time, the strategic importance of Taiwan for Japan’s national security and stabilization of the international community.

: US and European leaders say they will “closely consult and cooperate on the full range of issues” as they deal with China, addressing “ongoing human rights violations in Xinjiang and Tibet; the erosion of autonomy and democratic processes in Hong Kong; economic coercion; disinformation campaigns; and regional security issues.”

: Myanmar’s opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi goes on trial for corruption charges.

: China flies 28 warplanes into Taiwan-controlled airspace, the biggest sortie of its kind since the Taiwanese government began publishing information about incursions last year.

: Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Locsin announces that Manila will further delay its decision to suspend the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US, citing tension in disputed waters in the South China Sea between the Philippines and China.

: Heads of state and government at the NATO summit release a statement noting that “China’s growing influence and international policies can present challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance” and promised to “engage China in constructive dialogue … with a view to defending the security interests of the Alliance.”

: G7 leaders pledge to donate more than 1 billion doses of COVID vaccines to help developing nations overcome the pandemic. G7 nations also issue a joint statement calling for the complete denuclearization of North Korea, welcoming the commitment of Washington to engage with Pyongyang through diplomacy, as well as a criticisms of China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, calls for Hong Kong to maintain a high degree of autonomy, and emphasis on the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. China denounces the statement.

: At G7 summit, leaders commit to creating an infrastructure financing mechanism to serve as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

: China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, passes Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law to provide a legal foundation to counter US and EU sanctions over trade, technology, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang.

: Samoa’s leader Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi promises to build a port at Vaiusu, west of the capital Apia, with $100 million in Chinese aid.

: President Biden revokes executive orders targeting Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat apps initiated by President Trump and signs a new order directing the Commerce Department to evaluate all software applications with potential ties to foreign adversaries including China and take action to protect data on US citizens gathered by the apps.

: Secretary of Defense Austin issues a directive to reorient the US military to better compete with Beijing. Few details are known, but its said to contribute to whole-of-government efforts to address challenges from China.

: US and Australian authorities arrest suspected organized crime figures in 18 countries as a result of the two countries’ joint operation.

: US Senate Committee on Armed Services holds a hearing entitled “The United States’ Strategic Competition with China.”

: US and Japan begin their annual Orient Shield military exercise.

: Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends and co-chairs meetings with foreign ministers of ASEAN countries.

: As three US senators visit Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen expresses gratitude for the US plan to donate 750,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan.

: Ministers from APEC commit to work to facilitate movement of essential goods and COVID-19 vaccines.

: Hong Kong police bans vigil commemorating the crackdown of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

: Japanese Coast Guard confirms presence of four China Coast Guard vessels in the contiguous zone off the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands; they mark a record 112 consecutive days of such intrusions.

: Suga, speaking at Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting, urges the 18 nations to unite against authoritarianism and in favor of freedom navigation in the high seas and respect for international law.

: Biden issues order banning US investment in Chinese firms that aid surveillance and repression both inside and outside China. It expands on EO13959 of Nov. 12, 2020.

: Indonesian government ends the salvage efforts to retrieve a sunken submarine that claimed 53 lives.

: Secretary Blinken has called on NATO members to deepen their cooperation with South Korea amid US efforts to reinforce cooperation between US allies.

: Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh announces that China will help expand and modernize Ream port, Cambodia’s largest naval base.

: Taiwan cuts water supply for chip-making hub Taichung because of drought.

: Malaysia’s foreign ministry accuses China of violating its airspace and emphasizes that national security is uncompromising.

: North Korea slams US lifting of missile restrictions on South Korea as a “stark reminder” of Washington’s hostile approach to Pyongyang, saying the recently unveiled US policy on North Korea is “just trickery.”

: Philippines lifts ban in Filipino workers traveling to Saudi Arabia for jobs.

: South Asian countries, such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, turn to China for vaccines for COVID-19 after India’s suspension of vaccine exports.

: Japanese and EU leaders release joint statement that “underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” and calls for “enhanced cooperation for a free and open Pacific.”

: 38 North says that North Korea appears to be continuing activities at its Yongbyon nuclear complex but no clear evidence has been detected to determine if spent fuel rods have been transferred from the storage facility to produce plutonium.

: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam propose to Liechtenstein to drop the Myanmar arms embargo.

: US and Japanese interagency representatives hold first US-Japan Global Digital Connectivity Partnership meeting.

: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation holds an online meeting of experts to prepare for the first meeting of Security Council Secretaries in Tashkent.

: US Ambassador to Indonesia Sung Kim begins work as a special representative for North Korea, speaking with his Japanese counterpart, Takehiro Funakoshi.

: Meeting between Secretary Blinken and Southeast Asian foreign ministers is rescheduled for next week due to a technical glitch on the US end.

: 16th China-Russia strategic security consultation is held in Moscow.

: Indonesian Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia announces that state-owned Indonesia Battery Corporation and South Korea’s LG will build a new $1.2 billion battery plant in Bekasi, Indonesia.

: President Biden meets South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the second foreign leader Biden hosts in Washington. During a joint press conference, Biden announces appointment of Sung Kim as special envoy for North Korea. Moon announces a joint decision with the US to end guidelines that restricted Seoul’s development of missiles, and an agreement to work together to build stable supply chains for semiconductors, electric vehicle batteries, and medical supplies.

: China and the Philippines hold talks on the South China Sea under a bilateral consultation mechanism set up in 2016 to address tensions in the maritime dispute. Senior officials from both sides confirm that the talks are “friendly and candid.”

: Japanese apparel companies World and Mizuno announce they will stop using Xinjiang cotton in response to allegations of human rights abuses by the Chinese government.

: Chinese military’s Southern Theatre Command says USS Curtis Wilbur illegally entered waters near the Paracel islands without permission, which violates its sovereignty and undermines regional peace and stability.

: Secretary Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meet in Reykjavik on the sidelines of the Arctic Council meeting.

: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin join the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of four nuclear reactors made with Russion technology via video conference.

: Prime Minister Suga and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte agree to cooperate in maintaining regional peace and stability during phone talks.

: President Joe Biden says that the United States will provide up to 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to other countries by the end of next month, reiterating his pledge to turn the US into an “arsenal” of vaccines for the entire world.

: US Senate passes the Endless Frontier Act 86-11. It would provide $120 billion to expand research into cutting-edge technologies to make the US more competitive with China.

: Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide and Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh have phone talks discussing China’s maritime actions and cooperation.

: For the first time, the Japanese government publicly identifies China as responsible for a cyberattack.

: Hong Kong police freeze the assets of media mogul Jimmy Lai, citing the National Security Law.

: State Department transmits its 2020 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom to Congress and announces sanctions against Chinese citizen Yu Hui, former Office Director of the “Central Leading Group on Preventing and Dealing with Heretical Religions” for his involvement in human rights violations such as the detention of Falun Gong practitioners.

: Biden reportedly picks Rahm Emanuel, the former Chicago mayor and chief of staff to President Obama, as ambassador to Japan.

: US, Japan, France, and Australia conduct joint training exercise Jeanne D’Arc 21 in Japan.

: China and Indonesia conduct a joint naval exercise off the coast of Jakarta.

: Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-young meet in London on the sidelines of the G7 foreign ministers’ summit.

: China suspends its Strategic Economic Dialogue with Australia.

: G7 foreign ministers, including those from Japan and the US, issue a joint statement warning China not to escalate cross-strait tensions with Taiwan.

: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin suggests a new concept of integrated deterrence that calls for Japan to assume a role in the numerous chokepoints of the Nansei Islands group.

: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls for coordinated efforts to denuclearize North Korea at the G7 summit.

: Japanese government lodges diplomatic protest against the presence of a Chinese marine research vessel conducting unauthorized research within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the first confirmed incursion around the Okinawa area since July 2019.

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