Regional Overview

Chronology from Sep 2023 to Dec 2023

: Foreign ministers of Southeast Asia’s regional bloc ASEAN express concern over growing tensions in the South China Sea.

: Japan says it lodged a protest with South Korea over military drills conducted in waters near South Korean-controlled, Japanese-claimed islets in the Sea of Japan.

: KCNA reports that North Korean leader Kim is calling for stepped-up efforts to prepare for war.

: China’s defense ministry accuses Taiwan’s government of deliberately “hyping up” a military threat from China for electoral gain ahead of elections on the island in just over two weeks’ time, but again sent warplanes into the Taiwan Strait.

: South Korea signs a contract with the US government to buy 20 additional F-35A stealth fighter jets amid efforts to bolster response capabilities against North Korean military threats.

: Unification of Taiwan with mainland China “will surely be realized,” Chinese President Xi declares at a speech in Beijing to commemorate the 130th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birth.

: Russia and India discuss plans and make progress in talks toward jointly producing military equipment.

:   Chinese government threatens to place further trade sanctions on Taiwan if the ruling party “stubbornly” adheres to supporting independence, in a further escalation of the war of words as Taiwanese elections approach next month.

: Russia tells South Korea not to be surprised if Moscow retaliates against Seoul for expanding the list of goods which cannot be exported from the East Asian nation to Russia without special permission.

: South Korea imposes sanctions on eight North Koreans linked to nuclear and missile development through arms trade, cyberattacks and other illicit activities.

: Chinese state media accuses the Philippines of repeatedly infringing on China’s territory in the South China Sea, spreading false information and colluding with extraterritorial forces to cause trouble.

: ​​Eight Chinese fighter jets cross the median line of the Taiwan Strait, as well as one Chinese balloon, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry.

: China resumes imports of grouper from Taiwan, a day after angering Taipei with the ending of tariff cuts on some chemical imports less than a month before Taiwanese elections.

: Japan says it will send Patriot air defense missiles to the US after changing its arms export rules, in a shift away from its pacifist policies.

: Federation of Korean Industries proposes regular business summits to promote cooperation with its US and Japanese counterparts.

: Taiwan accuses China of economic coercion and election interference after Beijing announced the end of tariff cuts on some chemical imports from the island, saying Taipei violated a trade agreement, just ahead of Taiwanese elections.

: South Korea and Japan hold high-level economic talks for the first time in eight years.

: Department of Commerce announces the launch of an industrial base survey of the US semiconductor supply chain to “bolster the semiconductor supply chain, promote a level playing field for legacy chip production, and reduce national security risks posed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).”

: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says Pyongyang would not hesitate to launch a nuclear attack if an enemy provokes it with nuclear weapons.

: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warns the Philippines that any miscalculation in their escalating dispute in the South China Sea would bring a resolute response, and urges dialogue to address “serious difficulties” between the two neighbors.

:   Philippines defense minister rebukes China for accusing his country of provoking tension and stirring trouble in the South China Sea.

: Top diplomats of the US, South Korea, and Japan condemn North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches and urge Pyongyang to engage in “substantive dialogue without preconditions.”

: United States imposes sanctions on a network of 10 entities and four individuals based in Iran, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Indonesia for facilitating Iran’s procurement of sensitive goods for the production of attack drones.

: South Korea, the US, and Japan launch a system to share North Korean missile warning data in real time.

: Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin visits Beijing for the 28th regular prime ministerial meeting with his Chinese counterpart Li Qiang. President Xi meets Mishustin after the joint session of prime ministers on Dec. 20.

: Two Chinese balloons fly north of Taiwan, according to the island’s Defense Ministry.

: North Korea fires an intercontinental ballistic missile that has a range to hit anywhere in the continental US, marking its second launch in hours as Pyongyang condemned a US-led show of force as “war” moves.

: US condemns the prosecution of “pro-democracy advocate and media owner Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong under the PRC-imposed National Security Law.”

:   East Timor plans to choose partners for the Greater Sunrise offshore natural gas project that will bring it benefits, signaling that it will not rule out participation by Chinese companies.

: Chinese leader Xi arrives in Vietnam seeking to deepen ties with the Southeast Asian neighbor, weeks after Hanoi elevated diplomatic relations with the US and Japan.

: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hails US Congress for authorizing the sale of nuclear submarines to another country for the first time, allowing the AUKUS defense partnership of Australia, the US, and Britain to go ahead.

: Japan and ASEAN intend to work together on cybersecurity and systems for managing and operating artificial intelligence.

: China condemns Canada’s support for the Philippines over what it said were violations of China’s sovereignty in the South China Sea.

: Defense ministers of Japan, Britain, and Italy sign an agreement to establish a joint organization to develop a new advanced jet fighter, as their countries push to strengthen cooperation in the face of growing threats from China, Russia and North Korea.

: Russia and China conduct 7th joint air patrol over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea with Russia’s Tupolev-95MS strategic bombers and China’s Hong-6K strategic bombers.

: Philippines condemns China’s recent actions in the South China Sea, urging restraint to preserve regional stability following a spike in tensions over the weekend.

: Japan does not appeal a South Korean appeals court’s Nov. 23 ruling which was in favor of a group of former “comfort women.”

: Two Chinese naval vessels become the first ships to dock at a new pier at Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base.

: At their first in-person summit for four years, China and the EU agree that their trade relationship should be more balanced, but gave no sign of resolving differences on a range of issues.

: Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) meet virtually and release a Leaders’ Statement which says the G7 “stand prepared to build constructive and stable relations with China” but remain committed to “push for a level playing field” for workers and companies and remain “seriously concerned” about the situation in the East and South China Seas.

: South Korea successfully conducts third test flight of solid-fuel space rocket. 

:   Philippines’ coast guard says more than 135 Chinese “maritime militia” vessels are “swarming” around the disputed Whitsun Reef in the South China Sea.

: South Korea successfully launches its first indigenous military spy satellite into orbit.

: Malaysia invites China’s President Xi to visit, as the Southeast Asian country also seeks to boost the number of Chinese tourists to 5 million a year to fuel economic growth.

:   Philippines builds a new coast guard station on the contested island of Thitu in the South China Sea, boosting its ability to monitor movements of Chinese vessels and aircraft in the busy disputed waterway.

: US keeps North Korea on its list of state sponsors of terrorism in 2022 report.

: Chief minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat calls on Japanese semiconductor companies to invest in the hometown of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

: Japan and Vietnam agree to strengthen their security and economic ties in the face of China’s growing influence in the region.

: Taiwan High Prosecutors Office indicts 10 people, including several active-duty military personnel, for allegedly spying for China.

: China, Japan, and South Korea agree to restart cooperation and pave the way for a summit in the latest move to ease tensions between the Asian neighbors. 

: US, South Korea, and Japan conduct naval drills to strengthen their joint defense posture. 

: Philippines and Australia begin their first joint sea and air patrols in the South China Sea.

: US Navy destroyer USS Hopper conducts a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands.

: North Korea fires ballistic missile toward East Sea, but launch apparently failed.

: A South Korean appeals court, the Seoul High Court rules in favor of a group of 16 former “comfort women” (survivors of Imperial Japan’s wartime sexual slavery) ordering the Japanese government to provide 200 million won (about $150,000) in compensation to each victim, overruling a lower court ruling in 2021. Foreign Minister Kamikawa issues a statement calling the ruling “extremely regrettable and absolutely unacceptable.”

: South Korea suspends part of a 2018 inter-Korean military tension reduction agreement in response to North Korea’s latest launch of a military spy satellite. The US, South Korea, and Japan’s nuclear envoys also hold phone calls and “strongly” condemn North Korea’s space launch. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) reports the three countries have shared information regarding the launch. 

: United States authorities thwarted a plot to kill a Sikh separatist in the United States and issued a warning to India over concerns the government in New Delhi was involved, according to a senior Biden administration official.

: US and the Philippines start joint air and sea patrols in the South China Sea.

: North Korea notifies Japan it plans to launch a rocket carrying a space satellite between Nov. 22 and Dec. 1 in the direction of the Yellow Sea and East China Sea, Japan’s Coast Guard said on Tuesday.

: South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol heads to Britain for a state visit, hoping to boost economic ties and security partnerships as his country faces what it sees as growing danger from a nuclear-armed North Korea.

: Philippines approaches neighbors Malaysia and Vietnam to discuss a separate code of conduct regarding the South China Sea, citing limited progress toward a broader regional pact with China.

: India and Australia hold their 2nd 2 + 2 Defense and Foreign Ministers Dialogue. 

: Taiwan reports renewed Chinese military activity around the island, with nine aircraft crossing the sensitive median line of the Taiwan Strait and warships carrying out “combat readiness patrols.”

: Maldives new President Mohamed Muizzu, who campaigned on altering the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago’s “India first” policy, requests India withdraw its military from the country.

: United States and the Philippines sign a landmark deal that would allow Washington to export nuclear technology and material to Manila, which is exploring the use of nuclear power to decarbonize and boost energy independence.

: Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio stresses the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait during a meeting with President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC summit. 

: After meeting President Xi, Biden tells the media: “I reiterate what I’ve said since I’ve become president and what every previous president of late has said—that we—we maintain an agreement that there is a one-China policy and that—and I’m not going to change that. That’s not going to change.”

: United States and the Philippines announce that they will explore opportunities to collaborate on semiconductor supply chains with funds from the CHIPS Act of 2022.

: Japanese Trade Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi and Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao agree to create a new framework to discuss export controls on key minerals and other trade issues.

: ASEAN defense chiefs and counterparts from regional partners like the United States, China, and Russia meet in Jakarta for the 10th ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus.

: President Biden chairs the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in San Francisco.

: Defense ministers in ASEAN call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and a durable solution to the crisis in Myanmar during the opening of a regional meeting in Jakarta.

: President Biden and President Xi begin a high-profile summit in San Francisco in a renewed attempt to stabilize US-China relations.

: North Korea tests newly developed solid-fuel engines for new-type for a new type of intermediate-range ballistic missile.

: US and South Korea update their strategy on deterring North Korea for the first time in a decade.

: President Biden and Indonesian counterpart, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, meet at the White House, agreeing to elevate ties and cooperate in fields ranging from climate and energy to digital connectivity and defense.

: Cabinet officials from the 14 Indo-Pacific Economic Framework members kick off two-day meeting.

: Leaders from the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum gather in San Francisco for the 30th APEC summit.

: India and the US underline their commitment to boosting security ties as their top diplomats and defense chiefs discuss regional security, China and the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

: President Ishmael Toroama, who represents the Autonomous Region of Bougainville within Papua New Guinea, travels to Washington, D.C.

: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese calls for the “full resumption of free and unimpeded trade” with China in a meeting with counterpart Li Qiang that marked the return of talks after a four-year hiatus.

: Group of Seven (G7) wealthy nations – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the US – as well as the EU, meet in Tokyo to discuss issues including Russia’s war in Ukraine and the Israel-Gaza crisis.

: Prime Minister Kishida and Malaysian counterpart Anwar Ibrahim agree to promote bilateral defense and maritime security cooperation amid China’s increasing military assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.

: Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio says his country, the Philippines, and the US are cooperating to protect the freedom of the South China Sea as he commits to help enhance Manila’s security capabilities.

: US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Kerry and China’s Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua meet at Sunnylands, California, where they sign the Sunnylands Agreement on “Enhancing Cooperation to Address the Climate Crisis.”

: US Navy destroyer USS Dewey conducts a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands.

: Destroyer from the US Navy 7th Fleet and a frigate from the Royal Canadian Navy jointly conduct a “routine Taiwan Strait transit through waters where high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law.”

: 27th US-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue is conducted in Washington. Ongoing since normalization of US-Vietnam relations in 1995, the Dialogue has been incorporated as a key feature of the US-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership announced in September.

: United States imposes sanctions on the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), the country’s most lucrative state-owned enterprise. Washington also adds the names of three entities and five individuals to the sanctions list, for their involvement with the Tatmadaw.

: President Biden has a one-hour meeting with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, at the White House, where he highlighted the importance of maintaining open lines of communication with Beijing. 

: UN expert panel overseeing sanctions against Pyongyang estimates North Korea’s state-sponsored cyber theft last year at $1.7 billion.

: South Korean and U.S. troops conduct live-fire exercises to hone their ability to respond to potential “Hamas-style surprise artillery attacks” by North Korea.

: President Biden warns China that the US will defend the Philippines in case of any attack in the disputed South China Sea.

: China says that the US does not have the right to get involved in problems between China and the Philippines.

: US Secretary of State Blinken meets China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Department of State.

: California Gov. Gavin Newsom meets Chinese President Xi in Beijing. Newsom, joined by US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns, also meets China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Vice President Han Zheng and signs a new climate-focused Memorandum of Understanding with National Development and Reform Commission Chairman Zheng Shanjie. 

:   Philippines accuses China’s coast guard of colliding with a Filipino supply boat in the South China Sea.

: US, South Korea, and Japan conduct the first trilateral aerial exercise to strengthen their joint response capabilities against North Korea. 

: California Gov. Gavin Newsom visits China to reinforce his state’s role as a global leader on climate change.

:   Biden administration reduces the types of semiconductors that American companies will be able to sell to China, citing the desire to close loopholes in existing regulations announced last year.

: Chinese President Xi Jinping outlines his views on the past and future of the Belt and Road Initiative, as Beijing hosts world dignitaries at a forum marking the 10th anniversary of its signature foreign policy strategy.

: Department of Commerce’s BIS adds 13 Chinese companies to the Entity List for aiding the AI capabilities of China’s military and high-tech surveillance sector and, thus, “acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”

: President Putin visits Beijing to participate in the 3rd Belt-Road-Initiative Forum. He holds talks with President Xi Jinping on Oct. 18. 

: South Korea military transport plane help evacuate 163 South Koreans, 51 Japanese, and six Singaporeans from Israel. 

: India’s stock market loses momentum as risk-averse investors pull out money amid a diplomatic row with Canada.

: North Korea threatens to stage the “most powerful and rapid first strike” against US strategic assets deployed to the Korean Peninsula.

: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. applies for permanent approval to ship US chip equipment to its facility in Nanjing, China, after its one-year license for the plant received a temporary renewal.

: US Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft transits the Taiwan Strait in international airspace to “demonstrate the United States” commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.” 

: China sends fighter jets to monitor and warn a US Navy patrol aircraft that flew through the Taiwan Strait.

: EU launches investigation into overcapacity in China’s steel sector, a move that could see a tariff of 25% imposed on imports from the world’s second-largest economy.

: South Korea’s defense minister pushes to suspend a 2018 inter-Korean military agreement in order to resume front-line surveillance on rival North Korea, as the surprise attack on Israel by Hamas raised concerns in South Korea about similar assaults by the North.

: South Korea, the United States, and Japan stage a trilateral maritime interdiction exercise for the first time in seven years.

: Canadian diplomats remain in India as withdrawal deadline passes.

: Taiwan’s government opens an investigation into four companies named in a media report as conducting business with firms linked to U.S.-sanctioned Huawei in China, and is considering tighter rules on key technologies.

: Canada joins India-hosted parliamentary speakers’ summit of G20 nations, signaling both countries are keen to cooperate in legislative affairs despite tensions over the killing of a Sikh separatist leader.

: China issues a warning to Philippine vessels involved in mission to supply troops stationed in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

: China complains about the “very short” time provided by the European Union to engage in consultations for the bloc’s inquiry into subsidies for electric vehicles.

: India orders Canada to remove 41 of 62 diplomats from the country as their diplomatic row escalates. 

: Philippines and the US kick off a two-week joint naval exercise, part of efforts to bolster international cooperation amid Beijing’s increasingly assertive activity in the South China Sea.

: Indian EAM S. Jaishankar criticizes Canada’s “permissive” attitude toward terrorism and violence and allowing a culture of intimidation toward Indian diplomats. 

: Washington officials say U.S. soldier Travis King, who crossed the inter-Korean border into North Korea in July, is in US custody after his release by the reclusive regime.

: United States holds a summit with 14 Pacific Island States to discuss climate change, regional security, and China.

: A delegation from the US Food and Drug Administration visits Divi’s Laboratories, an Indian manufacturer of artificial pharmaceutical ingredients, in Hyderabad.

: South Korea hosts a trilateral meeting with China and Japan.

:   Philippines Coast Guard removes the floating barrier surrounding Scarborough Shoal.

Sept. 25, 2023: South Korea and the US stage joint naval drills in East Sea amid North Korean threats.

: Department of Commerce’s BIS adds 11 entities based in China to the Entity List for national security concerns, including implication in “a conspiracy to violate US export controls.”

Sept. 25, 2023: North Korea opens the border to foreigners for first time since COVID-19.

: Defense officials from the US and the PRC hold a hybrid in-person and virtual meeting to discuss the Department’s recently released 2023 DOD Cyber Strategy Unclassified Summary and to engage in “substantive discussion on a range of cyber-related topics.”

: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Japanese and Australian counterparts on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, South Korean Foreign Minister Park, and Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa meet on the sidelines of the UNGA to discuss trilateral cooperation and a possible North Korean-Russia arms deal. 

: US and China launch new joint economic working groups in an effort to build cooperation despite growing tensions and competition.

: President Biden holds a summit with five former soviet Central Asian states to discuss regional security and territorial integrity.

: ASEAN begins a five day joint military exercise in Indonesian waters, amid growing tensions in the South China Sea.

: Canada accuses “agents of the government of India” of being behind the death of Sikh community leader in British Columbia. 

: US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan meets Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Malta.

: US, Japan, and South Korean national security advisors hold a call to discuss the summit between Russian President Putin and North Korean leader Kim. 

: European Commission starts investigation into whether to impose tariffs to protect the EU against Chinese electric vehicle imports benefiting from state subsidies.

: North Korea fires two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea in an apparent show of force ahead of its leader Kim Jong Un’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

: Department of Defense releases its 2023 Cyber Strategy Summary in which the PRC is listed as the first among several state and non-state actors in a “contested cyberspace.”

: US Navy destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) and Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Ottawa (FFH 341) operate in the South China Sea as part of a joint exercise.

: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits to Russia for summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid growing concerns over military cooperation between Pyongyang and Moscow. While there, Kim and Putin meet at Russia’s Vostochny spaceport, Kim inspects factory producing modern fighter jets in Russia’s Far East, Kim meets Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to inspect Russia’s nuclear-capable bombers, and Putin accepts the invitation to visit Pyongyang.

: President Biden visits Hanoi to discuss US-Vietnam relations and semiconductors. During the visit, Vietnam elevates the US to the highest diplomatic status, alongside China and Russia.

: President Joe Biden travels to Vietnam for a visit hosted by Nguyen Phu Trong, secretary-general of the Vietnamese Communist Party. Washington and Hanoi announce that US-Vietnam relations will be elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The two countries announce that they will explore possibilities of strengthening semiconductor supply chains with funds from the International Technology Security and Innovation (ITSI) funds created by the CHIPS Act of 2022.

: President Biden, Prime Minister Modi, and other G20 leaders unveil the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, which has been seen as a direct competitor to China’s BRI.

: President Biden attends the 18th G20 Summit and talks to PRC Premier Li Qiang on the margins of the summit.

: India and the United States, along with the European Union, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other G20 partners, sign a memorandum of understanding on the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, or IMEC. Included in the deal is a railway to link Middle Eastern countries and connect them to India by port.

: G20 adds the African Union to its membership on the final day of the G20 summit, making it the G21 and adding a major voice from the Global South. 

: US Navy destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) and Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Ottawa (FFH 341) conduct “a routine Taiwan Strait transit…through waters where high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law.

: At the G20 summit, Prime Minister Kishida explains Japan’s position and responds to criticisms of the three Fukushima water releases on Aug. 24, Oct. 5, and Nov. 20.

: Modi welcomes President Biden to India, and the leaders reaffirm their commitment to the G20 and express confidence that the outcomes of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi will advance their shared goals.

: India reduces import tariffs on US poultry which resolves the last of all the US-India trade disputes.

: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairs the 20th ASEAN-India Summit. 

: South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup holds a phone call with US and Japanese counterparts to discuss trilateral security cooperation following up on the Camp David Summit, and North Korea’s missile launches.

: 32nd Korea-Japan Customs Heads’ Meeting is held in South Korea, the first such meeting between the neighboring countries in seven years. 

: US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) adds 42 Chinese companies to its Entity List, effective Oct. 6, for supplying US-origin integrated circuits to Russian intermediaries and end-users.

: ASEAN leaders agree to prevent Myanmar from gaining chairing the group in 2026 as previously scheduled.

: Taiwan government announces that investments approved for the 18 countries under the New Southbound Policy increased to $5.3 billion in 2022, up 90% from $2.8 billion in 2019. 

: Vanuatu’s new Prime Minister Sato Kilman agrees to review the Vanuatu-Australia Security Pact.

: US Navy destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) conducts a “bilateral sail” with Philippine Navy guided-missile frigate BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) in the South China Sea “to enhance the interoperability between the two navies.”

: Regional leaders convene in Indonesia for a number of high-level meetings, including the 43rd ASEAN Summit and the 18th East Asia Summit.

: Australia extends its police presence in the Solomon Islands per their request as Canberra becomes increasingly concerned with China-Solomon relations.

: North Korea fires missiles over the Yellow Sea in the wake of US-South Korea joint military exercises.

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