Regional Overview

Chronology from Sep 2016 to Dec 2016

: China’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning sets off for the Western Pacific for its first open-sea training exercise, according to the Chinese Defense Ministry.

: Chinese Navy returns the underwater drone to the US Navy “after friendly consultations between the Chinese and US sides.”

: Indonesian Coordinating Maritime Minister Luhut Panjaitan visits Japan and meets Foreign Minister Kishida. They sign a Memorandum of Cooperation to establish the Indonesia-Japan Maritime Forum.

: Chinese Navy warship seizes an underwater drone deployed by the USNS Bowditch, a US oceanographic survey vessel, in international waters in the South China Sea, triggering a formal diplomatic protest from the US and a demand for its return.

: CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) reports that satellite imagery shows China has apparently installed “significant” defensive weapons on a series of artificial islands it built in the South China Sea.

: South Korea’s National Assembly votes 234-56 to impeach President Park Geun-hye over her role in a corruption and influence-peddling scandal, forcing her to immediately hand over the running of the country to a caretaker prime minister.

: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and President-elect Donald Trump have a telephone conversation, marking the first time a Taiwan president has had official contact with a US president or president-elect since the US broke ties with Taiwan in 1979. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi characterizes the exchange as a “petty action” by Taiwan.

: North Korea condemns the new UNSC sanctions, saying the “UN Security Council has once again overstepped its authority and infringed on our sovereignty” and that “There is nothing in the UN Charter or any other international law that defines nuclear tests as threats to international peace or security.”

: UN Security Council passes UNSC Resolution 2321, which imposes new sanctions on North Korea aimed at cutting its annual export revenue by a quarter in response to North Korea’s fifth nuclear test in September.

: Japan and South Korea sign a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), which will allow them to share sensitive information on the threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear activities.

: US-Philippines Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB) is held in Manila. A joint statement says that “We look forward to continued, close cooperation in areas central to both our national and security interests including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter-terrorism, cyber security, and maritime security.”

: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declares the lagoon at Scarborough Shoal as a marine sanctuary and off-limits to fishermen. Chinese Foreign Ministry refuses to comment.

: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic (APEC) Leaders Meeting is held in Lima, Peru.

: US and Brunei conduct the 22nd iteration of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) naval exercises involving shore-based and at-sea training events.

: The Obama administration announces that it will not seek congressional ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

: Vietnam announces cancellation of its plan to construct two nuclear power plants, citing the high cost and slower than expected growth in the demand for electricity.

: Donald Trump is elected 45th president of the United States.

: Fifteenth Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Prime Minister’s Meeting is held in Bishkek.

: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak visits China and meets President Xi Jinping and other senior leaders.

: Deputy Secretary Blinken visits Beijing to meet Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui for the third interim Strategic Security Dialogue, continuing discussions between the two sides on strategic security issues including DPRK and maritime issues.

: Deputy Secretary Blinken visits South Korea to discuss strategies to deal with North Korea.

: US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Japan for fifth round of deputy-level US-Japan-South Korea trilateral consultations.

: President Duterte visits Japan and meets Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and other senior leaders.

: Sixth Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is held in Beijing.

: Navies of Japan, South Korea, and the US participate in a joint naval exercise off the southern coast of South Korea’s Jeju Island.

: The USS Decatur conducts a “freedom of navigation” operation near the Paracel Islands in what the US described as a “routine, lawful manner.” China responds by lodging a protest with the US referring to the operation as “illegal” and “provocative.”

: South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Defense Minister Han visit Washington and meet Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter for the fourth US-ROK 2+2 meeting.

: Philippine President Duterte leads a delegation that includes more than 200 business leaders to China. He meets President Xi Jinping and other senior leaders and a joint statement is issued.

:   India hosts eighth BRICS Summit in Goa. The theme of India’s BRICS Chairmanship is Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions.

: Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej dies at the age of 88 after extended illness.

: Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Cambodia and meets Premier Hun Sen and other senior leaders.

: South Korea says it would use greater force, including firearms, against Chinese boats fishing illegally in its waters and summons China’s ambassador to protest a clash between a Chinese vessel and a ROK Coast Guard boat.

: South Korean President Park Geun-hye tells ROK government to prepare for large-scale defections from DPRK, days after a direct appeal to its citizens to flee their country.

: Seventh Xiangshan Forum, co-hosted by Chinese Association for Military Science and the China Institute for International Strategic Studies, is held in Beijing under the theme of “Strengthen Security Dialogue and Cooperation, and Build a New Type of International Relations.” Representatives from more than 60 countries attend.

: US and ROK conduct Invincible Spirit naval exercises to “strengthen maritime interoperability and tactics, techniques and procedures,” in South Korean waters.

: US and the Philippines conduct Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX), which President Rodrigo Duterte says will be the last joint US-Philippine exercise during his term in office. The exercise ends one day earlier than originally planned.

: Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, deputy commander of US Pacific Command, visits Myanmar to meet senior government officials, ethnic leaders, and Myanmar youth.

: Two US Navy ships, the submarine tender USS Frank Cable and guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain make a port call in Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay as part of naval engagement activities between the US and Vietnam.

: Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin, and Indonesian Defense Minister Ryacudu reach agreement on the sidelines of the ASEAN-US Defense Dialogue in Hawaii to explore joint air patrols in transit corridors considered by the three nations as maritime areas of common concern.

: Informal US-ASEAN Defense Minister Meeting is held in Honolulu to discuss a range of issues, including terrorism, maritime security, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

: Two Chinese frigates in transit from the Gulf of Aden visit Yangon’s Thilwa deep-sea port for what “a show of diplomatic cooperation between the two nations.”

: United States places sanctions on Chinese firm Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Company Ltd and four company officials and files criminal charges against them for assisting North Korea with its nuclear and missile programs, a move representing the first-ever sanctions on a Chinese entity over Pyongyang’s weapons programs.

: US and South Korean navies conducted a joint exercise near the North Korean maritime border. The exercise marks the first time joint forces conducted naval training in an area closest to North Korea’s maritime border in the East Sea or Sea of Japan.

: US Secretary of State John Kerry, Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio, and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se meet in New York to discuss responses to North Korea’s latest nuclear test.

: Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi visits Washington and meets President Obama and other senior officials.

: China and Russia conduct Joint Sea 2016 naval exercise off Guangdong Province in the South China Sea. The joint drill is described as “a strategic measure” and a concrete action to promote the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership.

: DPRK conducts its fifth nuclear test since 2006 and its second this year.  The rest of the world sharply condemns the action.

: UN Security Council issues a strong condemnation of North Korea’s latest missile tests and threatens to take “further significant measures” against Pyongyang.

: Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo meets Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Vientiane and agrees to provide two large-sized patrol ships and lend up to five used surveillance aircraft to the Philippines.

: The 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits, the 19th ASEAN Plus Three Summit, and the 11th East Asia Summit are held in Vientiane.

: North Korea launches three Rodong ballistic missiles from its east coast into the Sea of Japan (East Sea) landing about 400km inside Japan’s Air Identification Zone.

: Eleventh G20 Summit is held in Hangzhou, China.

Date Range