: Laos Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh resigns and is replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone.
: Malaysian Parliament approves prime ministership of Anwar Ibrahim in a vote of confidence.
: 2023 National Defense Authorization Act passes in Congress and incorporates the Burma Unified Through Rigorous Military Accountability Act (BURMA Act) of 2021.
: Thai government conducts a “non-ASEAN” meeting on the Myanmar conflict, inviting officials from the military time in Naypyidaw and other regional leaders. Among the other ASEAN states, only Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia send their foreign ministers.
: ASEAN and the European Union hold their first in-person summit in Brussels, to commemorate 45 years of relations.
: US State Department announces that it will downgrade relations with Myanmar by not replacing US Ambassador to Naypyidaw Thomas Vadja when he leaves his post at the end of December. The embassy will be led by the Deputy Chief of Mission Deborah Lynn, acting as Chargé d’Affaires.
: Indonesian Parliament votes to revise the country’s Criminal Code to criminalize adultery, sex outside marriage, and insults to the president or other state authorities.
: In an address to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong chastises the United States for lackluster economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.
: ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) is hosted in Siem Reap, Cambodia, with participation from 9 of 10 ASEAN states (Myanmar being absent), plus 8 “dialogue partners.”
: Following her visit to Thailand to represent the United States at the APEC meeting, Vice President Kamala Harris travels to the Philippines and visits Palawan, a Philippine military base on the edge of the South China Sea.
: Malaysia holds general elections and Anwar Ibrahim, leader of the multi-ethnic Pakistan Haraphan (PH) coalition and of the People’s Justice Party (PKR) becomes prime minister after complicated negotiations to assemble a ruling coalition. Anwar is sworn in on Nov. 24.
: Myanmar junta releases 5,800 prisoners, 400 of whom are estimated to be political detainees including Australian economist Sean Turnell and US citizen Kyaw Htay Oo.
: Thailand hosts the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting and brokers a consensus statement that calls Russia out for the war in Ukraine. The group adopts the Bangkok Goals on the Bio-Circular-Green Economy.
: Indonesia hosts the G20 Summit in Bali. The meeting focuses on the global economic situation but does not dodge the war in Ukraine in the consensus Leaders’ Declaration.
: Just Energy Transition Partnership (JEPT) for Indonesia, which will facilitate Indonesia’s transition to clean energy, is launched on the margins of the G20 Summit.
: At the ASEAN Leaders Summit in Cambodia ASEAN agrees “in principle” to admit East Timor as its 11th member. Dili will have observer status until its formal admission, which will likely come in the middle of the decade.
: President Biden participates in the East Asia Summit in Cambodia and the adjacent US-ASEAN Summit. Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia do not attend the EAS.
: At the 10th Annual US-ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, President Biden and ASEAN leaders elevate US-ASEAN relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
: After an aerial bombardment by the Burmese junta in Kachin State on Oct. 23, the US Treasury Department targets Sky Aviator Company, Ltd., for sanctions for operating in Myanmar’s defense sector.
: United States and Singapore conduct the first US-Singapore Cybersecurity Dialogue, in Singapore, co-chaired by Cybersecurity Agency of Singapore Chief Executive David Koh and US Ambassador at Large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy Nate Fick.
: ASEAN foreign ministers (minus Myanmar) meet in Jakarta at the ASEAN Secretariat to discuss the conflict in Myanmar. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi expresses “disappointment” that the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus Plan has not advanced, and acknowledges that the situation in Myanmar is worsening.
: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., announces that Manila will drop a $215 million helicopter deal with Russia and instead purchase military helicopters from the United States.
: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Daniel Kritenbrink travels to Vietnam and Laos. In Vientiane he co-chairs the 10th US-Laos Comprehensive Dialogue.
: US Treasure Department announces sanctions on three individuals for procurement of Russian-made arms from Belarus for the military regime in Myanmar.
: US and Filipino Marines kick off large-scale joint drills in and around Philippine Islands facing the South China Sea and in Japan, with Japanese and South Korean military participating as observers.
: US State Department Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Timothy Betts visits Indonesia for a counterterrorism dialogue with the Indonesian National Counterterrorism Agency.
: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin conducts a Defense Ministers Meeting in Hawaii with his counterparts in Japan, Australia and the Philippines.
: Thailand’s Constitutional Court rules that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s term as prime minister terminates in 2025, resolving disputes over whether his years as junta leader after the 2014 coup were to be counted.
: The third ministerial (and first in-person meeting) of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) is held in Los Angeles. The 14 members declare which pillars that they will negotiate in and agree upon the main issue areas for each pillar.
: US State Department Undersecretary for Arms Control Bonnie Jenkins travels to the Philippines, Vietnam, and Singapore.
: United States and Vietnam hold 9th Asia-Pacific Dialogue in Washington, DC, co-chaired by State Department Assistant Secretary for East Asia Daniel Krittenbrink and Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Minh Vu.
: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Razak Najib fails to win appeal in his criminal case and begins 12-year prison sentence for involvement in the 1MDB scandal. Najib announces his intention to seek a royal pardon.
: Opposition parties in the Thai Parliament submit petition to the Constitutional Court of Thailand requesting that the court remove PM Chan-ocha from office because he has exhausted his 8-year term limit. On Aug. 24 the Court accepts the petition and suspends Prayuth from his responsibilities as prime minister until a decision on the petition is reached. Prayuth remains in the Cabinet, however, as defense minister.
: Vietnam issues Decree 53/2022/ND-CP which requires internet companies to store data onshore; open representative offices in-country; and remove data from the internet that the government deems harmful.
: Thailand and China open 10-day Falcon Strike air force exercises based at Udorn Royal Thai Air Base.
: Military regime in Myanmar announces that political parties will not be permitted to have contact with foreigners or international organizations without prior permission from the Union Election Commission (UEC).
: Adm. John C. Aquilino, commander of US Indo-Pacific Command, visits Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia. In Indonesia he attendsSuper Garuda Shield 22 exercises.
: ASEAN holds 29th ASEAN Regional Forum in Phnom Penh, which gives rise to the US-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and other bilateral ministerial between ASEAN and its external partners.
: Secretary of State Blinken visits the Philippines following the ASEAN Regional Forum in Cambodia and meets with President Marcos.
: Ministerial Regulation 5 goes into effect in Indonesia, which requires social media platforms and other internet entities to register with the government and to remove user data at the government’s request.
: Military regime in Myanmar executes four pro-democracy activists it had convicted on charges of “terrorism” because of their political activities in secret trials. Regime officials indicate they are prepared to execute as many as 40 more activists in the near future; more than 100 activists under detention have been sentenced to death.
: Thai PM Chan-ocha survives the 4th no-confidence vote against him.
: International Court of Justice determines that it has jurisdiction over a petition brought by The Gambia against Myanmar for genocide against Muslim Rohingya, and that it will try the case.
: State Department releases 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP). Vietnam, Cambodia, and Brunei are placed in Tier-3, the lowest category, joining Malaysia and Myanmar in the tier. In Southeast Asia, only the Philippines and Singapore receive a Tier 1 rating.
: 13-member group of nations in IPEF hold first senior officials meeting in Singapore.
: On the heels of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bali, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visits Thailand and meets Prime Minister Chan-ocha as well as his counterpart, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.
: Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., is inaugurated as president of the Philippines and Sara Duterte as vice president.
: Indonesian President Joko Widodo visits Ukraine and Russia, the first Asian leader to do so since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.
: President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte orders an end to talks with China over joint oil and gas explorations in the South China Sea. Negotiations under a 2018 agreement with Beijing had failed to temper China’s actions in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
: Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court signals that he will reopen the investigation into the killings and other suspected human rights violations connection to Philippines President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. The court had suspended the investigation in December 2021, responding to a request from the Philippine government, which maintained that its own investigation into the killings would suffice.
: Opposition parties in the Thai Parliament enter a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and several of his Cabinet members. This is the 4th attempt by the opposition to remove Prayuth in the current legislative term.
: Moody’s Investment Service downgrades the Laotian Government’s long-term local and foreign currency issuer ratings from Caa2 to Caa3, changing the outlook from stable to negative. The shift is based on Laos’ high level of debt, nearly half of which is owed to China, and institutional and governmental weaknesses that compound the situation.
: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visits Thailand, his first trip to the country in his current role.
: Shangri-La Dialogue reconvenes in Singapore, after a hiatus of three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
: Cambodia holds communal elections, the first polls in a political cycle that will culminate in national elections in 2023. Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) wins, but by a margin—80%—that was lower than expected.
: Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman travels to the Republic of Korea (ROK), the Philippines, Vietnam and Laos.
: President Biden launches the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) in Tokyo, on the heels of the G7.
: Elections in Thailand are held for the governor of Bangkok, the first gubernatorial race since 2013. Chadehart Sittipunt, a former transportation minister in the administration of Yingluck Shinawatra, runs as an independent candidate and wins.
: Indonesian President Joko Widodo, in the United States for the US-ASEAN Special Summit, visits Texas to meet Elon Musk at the SpaceX Launch Center. Indonesia hopes to attract investment from Tesla for its aerospace program. Jokowi invites Musk to visit Indonesia in November.
: US-ASEAN Special Summit is held in Washington, DC., bringing together 9 of the 10 ASEAN states, with Myanmar not invited. It is the first US bilateral summit with ASEAN to be held in the capital.
: General elections are held in the Philippines, with victories for Ferdinand “Bong-Bong” Marcos, Jr., as president and Sara Duterte as vice president, both by sizable margins.
: Philippines conducts general elections and Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos, Jr., is elected president with a resounding margin. Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of current president Rodrigo Duterte, is elected vice president.
: Malaysia recommends that ASEAN open informal talks with the National Unity Government in Myanmar, to promote dialogue between the two sides of the ongoing conflict. Regime head and coup leader Min Aung Hlaing objects strenuously to the proposal.
: Former State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and leader of the National League for Democracy is sentenced to five years in detention on corruption charges, adding to a previous sentence of six years. She faces other corruption charges as well as trials for violation of the Official Secrets Act.
: Philippines and the United States launch an inaugural maritime dialogue in Manila, covering topics such as the need to strengthen a rules-based order in the South China Sea.
: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Philippine Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana meet at the Pentagon to discuss strengthening bilateral cooperation under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.
: United Malays National Organization (UMNO) announces that it will put forward Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob as its candidate in general elections. The announcement all but ensures that elections will be held before the end of the year.
: In a Facebook posting, Singapore Prime Minister Lee appoints Finance Minister Lawrence Wong as head of the People’s Action Party (PAP), effectively anointing Wong as the next prime minister.
: US and Indonesian navies conduct three days of at-sea operations in the South China Sea.
: Indonesian Chief of Navy Adm. Yudo Margono makes his inaugural visit to the Pentagon and meets US Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday. Indonesia currently has two midshipmen at the US Naval Academy for the first time.
: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien-Loong visits Washington and meets President Biden to discuss the invasion of Ukraine, China, Myanmar, and other issues of concern.
: State Department Counselor Derek Chollet visits the Philippines, Vietnam, and Japan to discuss regional issues, Myanmar and the crisis in Ukraine.
: US Treasury Department announces a new tranche of sanctions against Myanmar, which include entities providing arms to the military regime. The announcement also serves as a designation that the Tatmadaw committed genocide against the Muslim Rohingya in 2017 and Karen villagers in December 2021.
: US and Philippine Armed Forces conduct the 37th iteration of the Balikatan (“Shoulder-to-Shoulder”) Exercises. This year’s exercises focus on maritime security, amphibious operations, counter-terrorism and humanitarian assistance.
: Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhoon makes his first visit to Naypyidaw in his capacity as the ASEAN Special Envoy for Myanmar.
: US, Singaporean and Thai militaries participate in the 26th iteration of Exercise Cope Tiger at Korat Royal Air Force Base in Thailand.
: Singapore announces that it will impose unilateral export controls on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
: ASEAN releases a joint statement on the Ukraine crisis, urging all parties to show “restraint” but not mentioning the Russian invasion of the country.
: US and Thailand host a scaled-down version of the Cobra Gold Exercises, with a focus on humanitarian training drills instead of traditional war games. 1,200 US and 2000 Thai troops were joined by military personnel from India, Indonesia, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, and China. Launched in 1982, Cobra Gold is the longest-running multinational military exercise.
: Cambodia hosts ASEAN Foreign Ministers “retreat.” Since ASEAN member states cannot agree on representation from Naypidaw, Myanmar is not represented.
: Biden administration announces new sanctions on Myanmar, in concert with Canada and the UK, adding seven individuals and two entities connected to the junta to the list.
: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visits Myanmar, the first ASEAN head of state to do so since the February 2021 coup. He meets with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing and international relief officials in the hope of jumpstarting the ASEAN Five Point Consensus Plan.
: Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) goes into effect. The world’s largest trade agreement, it includes Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. India dropped out of negotiations in 2021.
: Indonesia invites officials in charge of maritime security in five other ASEAN states—Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam—to a meeting in February to foster a coordinated approach in matters related to the South China Sea.
: President Biden signs 2022 National Defense Authorization Bill into law, which stipulates that the US will “support and legitimize” the National Unity Government in Myanmar.
: Myanmar military attacks village of Mo So in Kayah State, killing 25 civilians. Among the burned bodies were several women and children and two international aid workers.
: Bipartisan group of US House Members send a letter to President Biden urging him to name an ambassador to ASEAN; there has been no Senate-confirmed ambassador in that post since 2017.
: Secretary of State Antony Blinken makes first trip to Southeast Asia in his capacity as secretary, visiting Indonesia and Malaysia. Just prior to his departure Blinken added Thailand to his itinerary but was forced to cancel that leg of the trip when a reporter traveling with the delegation tested positive for COVID.
: Thailand’s Chief of Defense Forces Gen. Chalermpol Srisawasdi visits the US and meets with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Assistant Secretary of Defense Ely Rather.
: Biden hosts the first-ever Summit for Democracy, to which only four Southeast Asian countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Timor L’este—are invited.
: Wunna Maung Lwin, Myanmar’s military-appointed foreign minister, visits Cambodia for talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen, a day after the junta drew international condemnation for sentencing NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi to prison.
: In a military trial, Aung San Suu Kyi and former Myanmar President Win Myint are found guilty of incitement and breaking COVID regulations. Suu Kyi is sentenced to four years in prison, but the sentence is reduced to two years.
: China and Laos officially open the China-Lao Rail Link, which runs from Kunming to Vientiane.
: United Nations Credentials Committee defers a decision on representation for Afghanistan and Myanmar, meaning that the Afghan Taliban and the Myanmar junta will not be permitted in the UN unless and until the Committee rules otherwise.
: President Xi Jinping and the Sultan of Brunei co-host a virtual ASEAN-China Summit and announce that China and ASEAN will elevate their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
: United States and Indonesia complete 19th Indonesia-US Security Dialogue at the Pentagon. The dialogue was led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Lindsey Ford and Maj. Gen. Rodon Pedrason, director-general of Defense Strategy for the Indonesian Ministry of Defense.
: Philippines Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin conveys “outrage and condemnation” to Beijing after Chinese vessels use water cannons to block two Filipino supply ships from heading to Second Thomas Shoal. Locsin warned China that the vessels are covered under the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty.
: Richardson returns to Myanmar to meet with Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and to negotiate the release of Danny Fenster, a US journalist who had been detained following the February coup.
: Bill Richardson, former US ambassador to the United Nations, visits Myanmar on a private humanitarian mission to encourage the regime to allow the distribution of aid and to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, he secures the release from prison of Aye Moe, a former employee of the Richardson Center for Human Rights.
: Brunei hosts 2021 East Asia Summit online. The group adopts joint resolutions on economic recovery and public health, particularly related to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
: ASEAN holds its online 38th and 39th Summits back-to-back, having deferred the first summit of the year because of the COVID pandemic.
: President Biden co-hosts a virtual US-ASEAN Summit with Bruneian Sultan Haji Hassanai Baikiah and pledges to strengthen the US-ASEAN Strategic Partnership with $100 million in new funding, primarily for public health and environmental projects.
: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appoints Singaporean Noelene Heyzer as UN Special Envoy to Myanmar, replacing Christine Schraner-Burgener.
: State Department Counsellor Derek Chollet travels to Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia to follow up on issues discussed during the August visit to the region by Vice President Kamala Harris and, in particular, to consult with regional leaders on the ASEAN Five Point Plan for Myanmar.
: ASEAN Special Envoy for Myanmar Erywan Yusof cancels his planned trip to Myanmar after the junta refuses access to Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of the National League for Democracy under detention.
: Southeast Asian leaders express disappointment and concern after US Trade Representative Katherine Tai says that the Biden administration will retain some tariffs on China and that progress on US-China trade talks is slow, due primarily to enforcement problems.
: President Biden and his counterparts in Australia, India, and Japan hold the first-ever in-person Leaders Summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue in Washington.
: China announces that it will seek entry into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, concurrent with a parallel announcement by Taiwan.
: President Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announce establishment of the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) “enhanced trilateral security partnership,” which draws a mixed reaction in Southeast Asia.
: Kamala Harris visits Singapore and Vietnam on her second international trip in her capacity as vice president. In Singapore she delivers a speech on the Biden administration’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region; addresses US sailors aboard the USS Tulsa visiting Changi Naval Base; and announces bilateral initiatives on climate change and supply chain support. In Vietnam, she focused on the pandemic and Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.
: Ismail Sabri Yaakob is sworn in as prime minister of Malaysia after King Abdullah announces his selection. Sabri is vice chair of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO). The king specifies that Parliament must hold a confidence vote on Sabri’s selection, although he does not specify a date.
: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his Cabinet resign after Muhyiddin acknowledges that his administration no longer commands a majority in Parliament. King Al-Sultan Abdullah appoints Muhyiddin as caretaker prime minister and polls Parliament on legislative support for a new appointment PM.
: US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield visits Bangkok and announces $55 million in US assistance to aid Thailand’s humanitarian response to COVID-19. Prior to her visit, the US had donated 1.5 million doses of COVID vaccine to the country. Thomas-Greenfield also announced that the United States would donate $50 million for critical humanitarian aid to Burmese both inside and outside Myanmar.
: United States and governments of the Friends of the Mekong Group hold a virtual meeting and release a joint statement celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Group and reaffirming its commitment to development in the Mekong sub-region. They congratulated the Mekong River Commission for completion of the Basin Development Strategy 2021-2030.
: ASEAN announces that it has chosen Brunei’s second minister for foreign affairs, Erywan Yusof, as special envoy to Myanmar. The special envoy position is one of five points in a consensus plan ASEAN developed following the Feb. 1 coup to help stop political violence in Myanmar and encourage the parties to resolve the conflict peacefully.
: Secretary Blinken conducts a virtual US-ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting. He highlighted ASEAN centrality, US cooperation with ASEAN to quell the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact; the need for bold action on climate change; and the urgency of the situation in Myanmar.
: Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi visits Washington and meets Secretary Blinken to open the first US-Indonesia Strategic Dialogue since the establishment of the bilateral strategic partnership in 2015. The leaders discussed the COVID-19 pandemic; maritime security; and the peaceful resolution of ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.
: Secretary Blinken co-hosts second US-Mekong Partnership ministerial meeting, which is held online.
: State Administrative Council of Myanmar declares itself a “caretaker government” and appoints junta leader and Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing as prime minister. Min Aung Hlaing walks back the regime’s promise after the Feb. 1 coup to hold elections in 2022 and says it is more likely that new elections will be held in 2023.
: Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announces that President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to the news of the new Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, abandoning a plan to terminate the pact. Lorenzana says that Duterte made the decision after meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during his visit to Manila.
: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visits Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines, making him the first Cabinet member of the Biden administration to visit Southeast Asia. In a keynote speech in Singapore and in meetings in Vietnam and the Philippines he calls out aggressive Chinese behavior in the South China Sea and stresses the importance of keeping the wider region free and open.
: Secretary Blinken participates in a virtual Special US-ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting. They pledge to continue strengthening the ASEAN-US Strategic Partnership, and Blinken praises the ASEAN five-point consensus plan on Myanmar, urging ASEAN to take immediate action to implement the plan.
: In response to the deteriorating situation in Myanmar, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Assets Control designates 22 individuals connected to the military regime for sanctions. These include two additional State Administrative Council members; four military-appointed Cabinet members; and 15 adult children or spouses of previously designated officials. In addition, the Department of Commerce adds the Chinese company Wanboa Mining, Ltd., and two of its subsidies, as well as King Royal Technologies to its Entity List.
: State Department releases the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report. Thailand is downgraded from Tier 2 to the Tier 2 Watch List, while Malaysia is downgraded to Tier 3. Myanmar remains in Tier 3.
: In a joint statement, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Nguyen Thi Hong, governor of the State Bank of Vietnam, announce that the two countries have reached an agreement over US charges of currency manipulation. Vietnam pledges that it will refrain from “competitive devaluation” of the dong in order to gain export advantage.
: Biden administration releases report of its 90-day review of supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic and announces formation of the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force to address short-term discontinuities. The review focused on four critical sectors, including the semiconductor supply chain, which is of increasing importance in US investment in Southeast Asia.
: Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman visits Indonesia, Cambodia, and Thailand. In Jakarta, she affirms US support for ASEAN centrality. In Phnom Penh, Sherman meets with Prime Minister Hun Sen and urges Cambodia’s leadership to maintain an independent and balanced foreign policy. She expresses serious concerns about China’s military presence and construction of facilities at Ream Naval Base and seeks clarification on the demolition of two US-funded buildings at Ream. In Thailand, she discusses a range of bilateral and regional issues, including the crisis in Myanmar.
: Secretary of State Antony Blinken attempts to host a virtual US-ASEAN ministerial meeting while in transit to Tel Aviv in Shannon Airport but technical issues block a connection.
: Senior delegations representing the US and Thailand meet virtually for 7th US-Thailand Strategic Dialogue. The Dialogue is co-led by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Keshal and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thani Thongphakdi. Both sides reiterate their commitment to the US-Thailand alliance and discuss deepening cooperation across a spectrum of issues, including technology and climate change.
: US launches 2021 Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis and announces $155 million in new assistance to sustain critical efforts to support Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh, as well as internally displaced Rohingya in Myanmar.
: US announces new sanctions against Myanmar’s military regime. The regime itself is designated through sanctions on the State Administrative Council. Also, four members of the SAC are named, along with nine military-appointed Cabinet members and three adult children of previously designated officials.
: Secretary Blinken participates in the online ASEAN Regional Forum hosted by Brunei as ASEAN chair and including representatives from 26 countries. He calls upon China to abide by its obligations under the international law of the sea and cease provocative behavior in the South China Sea.
: United States and ASEAN hold the 34th annual US-ASEAN Dialogue online. Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Ambassador Atul Keshap co-chair with Lao PDR Deputy Foreign Minister Bounleua Phandanouvong. Keshap raises climate change, among other issues. He stresses support for countries most vulnerable to climate change and the need for a shared effort to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
: United Nations Development Program issues a report warning that turmoil and violence in Myanmar has doubled the number of people in poverty, and could force half the population into poverty by early 2022, if the situation continues unchecked. Since the coup, 11% of the population has been pushed into poverty.
: Under the 2018 anti-terrorism law, the Indonesian government designates the National Liberation Army of West Papua as a terrorist group following an attack on April 25 in which they killed an army general, a policeman, and four civilians.
: State Administrative Council in Myanmar says in a statement that it will “consider” ASEAN’s points of consensus only when “genuine stability” has been reached in the crisis.
: The State Department issues a statement of concern over the April 20 arrests of 4 journalists affiliated with the Bao Sach (Clean Journalism) movement.
: After a five-day search, wreckage from the Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala is discovered at a depth of more than 800 meters in the Bali Sea. There were no survivors among the 53-person crew.
: ASEAN holds a “special meeting” on the Myanmar crisis in Jakarta. The chairman’s statement lists five “points of consensus,” intended to stop the violence and promote dialogue among the parties.
: US Treasury Department announces sanctions on two state-owned enterprises in Myanmar, the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) and the Myanmar Pearl Enterprise (MPE).
: US Treasury Department determines that Vietnam has tripped the threshold for currency manipulation but does not formally declare Hanoi a currency manipulator.
: Armed Forces of the Philippines and the United States Armed Forces conduct the 36th iteration of the Balikatan (“Shoulder-to-Shoulder’) exercises. Although the exercises were scaled down because of COVID-19, 222 US military and 415 AFP personnel participated in combined air operations, staff seminars and humanitarian activities.
: The Indo-Pacific Command moves the US carrier strike group USS Theodore Roosevelt and the amphibious ready group USS Makin Island into the South China Sea, partly in response to the presence of Chinese vessels off Whitsun Reef, a perceived threat against the maritime security of the Philippines.
: US Treasury Department designates Myanmar Gem Enterprise for sanctions, noting that military leaders participate in an ongoing gems emporium under the company’s auspices.
: Twelve defense chiefs, including Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, issue a statement condemning the use of lethal force against civilians in Myanmar and calling on the Tatmadaw to observe international standards of military professionalism.
: World Bank announces that the economy of Myanmar has contracted by 10% since the Feb. 1 coup. Food prices have doubled, and the cost of fuel has risen by 15%.
: President Biden announces his intention to nominate Daniel Kritenbrink to serve as assistant secretary of state for East Asia/Pacific. Kritenbrink has a combination of diplomatic experience in Northeast and Southeast Asia, and was most recently US ambassador to Vietnam.
: Biden administration announces new sanctions relative to Executive Order 14014. designating two large conglomerates, the Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company (MEHL) and the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) for sanctions.
: On Twitter, the US State Department expresses support for the Philippines and concern over the gathering of “PRC maritime militia vessels” near Whitsun Reef. The Chinese embassy in Manila responds, also through tweets, that the United States is “fanning flames and provoking confrontation in the region.”
: Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana calls upon the 220 Chinese vessels surrounding Whitsun Reef to withdraw, claiming they are violating the Philippines’ rights under international maritime law.
: The United States adds two individuals to the Myanmar sanctions list, the national Chief of Police Than Hlaing and Bureau of Special Operations Commander General Aung Soe, as well as two army units, the 33rd and 77th Light Infantry Divisions.
: Laos receives its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccination through the COVAX facility, consisting of 132,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.
: US State Department launches the US–Mekong Partnership Track 1.5 Policy Dialogue, presently online.
: At a virtual summit of the Quad, the United States, Japan, Australia and India announced that they will provide 1 billion doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, to be produced in India, to countries of the Indo-Pacific by the end of 2022.
: United States designates the adult children of three top junta officials in Myanmar for sanctions, as well as six entities owned or controlled by these individuals.
: ASEAN foreign ministers hold a virtual meeting with Myanmar coup leader Min Aung Hlaing in an attempt to persuade him to reduce levels of violence in the continued internal conflict.
: 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine arrive in Cambodia through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, which supports equitable access to COVID vaccines.
: Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai meet with Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing in Bangkok for an initial discussion on the violent aftermath of the Feb. 1 coup.
: G7 foreign ministers issue a statement condemning the violence committed in Myanmar against protestors and calling upon the security forces to exercise “utmost restraint and respect human rights and international law.”
: Biden administration designates two State Administrative Council (SAC) members Maung Maung Kyaw and Moe Mying Tun for sanctions.
: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte demands $16 billion in assistance from the United States in return for renewal of the Visiting Forces Agreement. The amount would quadruple the current size of US aid to the Philippines.
: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and nine ministers survive a no-confidence motion in parliament following a four-day censure debate. Protests calling for his resignation resume. The vote marks the second no-confidence vote Prayuth’s government has faced since taking office in July 2019.
: President Biden signs Executive Order 14014, which authorizes an initial round of sanctions on top military leaders in Myanmar who were involved in the Feb. 1 coup, among other possible actions. The Treasury Department subsequently announces the names of coup leaders to be sanctioned, including Min Aung Hlaing.
: Official negotiations open on renewal of the US–Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), triggering a 180-day countdown in which the agreement must be renewed or terminated.
: USS John McCainconducts a freedom of navigation operation in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, the sovereignty of which is claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
: Biden administration officially designates the Burmese military’s actions of Feb. 1 to be a coup, a legal action which paves the way for US sanctions.
: Hours before the newly-elected parliament of Myanmar is scheduled in convene in Naypyidaw, Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and a high-ranking group of officers overthrow the new government and detain State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of the National League for Democracy. As the 2021 ASEAN Chair, Brunei issues a statement referencing human rights principles in the ASEAN Charter and calling for dialogue, reconciliation and “the return to normalcy” in Myanmar.
: The Vietnamese Community Party’s 13th National Party Congress adjourns a day early because of a rise in COVID-19 cases.
: China announces the Coast Guard Law which comes into effect on Feb. 1, defining the conditions in which Chinese vessels will be permitted to attack foreign vessels. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs files a diplomatic protest over the law, claiming that it is a “threat of war to any country that defies China.”
: The 13th National Party Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam opens to select the top leadership of the party as well as choosing members of the Politburo, and to set policy goals for the next five years.
: The United States contributes $1 million worth of vehicles and equipment to the UXO Lao Training Center in Vientiane, Laos, to aid UXO removal teams working in five provinces.
: King Abdullah of Malaysia agrees to declare a state of emergency, in an attempt to curb coronavirus infections. The emergency, which suspends parliament, is also a boon to beleaguered Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, in that it prevents an immediate challenge to his leadership and gives him extraordinary powers, including the authority to introduce laws without the approval of the legislature.
: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien-Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin issue a joint announcement that the agreement between the two countries to construct a high-speed rail between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is officially terminated. The two leaders ultimately decide to end cooperation on the project, which was inaugurated in 2013, because of disagreements over cost.
: A Chinese air transporter is detected arriving on Firey Cross Reef in the West Philippine Sea, raising alarm that any plans for Beijing to build a military base on the feature could place the entirety of the Philippines within striking distance of Chinese air power.
: Indonesian President Joko Widodo reshuffles his Cabinet, replacing six ministers, in part to strengthen the government’s response to COVID-19.
: Malaysia hosts virtual APEC meeting, the culmination of a year of APEC events held completely online. The 21 members discuss reorienting the APEC agenda toward post-COVID economic recovery, as well as continuing work on the digital economy and efforts to improve the investment climate. The 2021 APEC meeting will be hosted by New Zealand in February, also online.
: US Navy, US Marine Corps, and the Republic of Singapore Navy conduct 26th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) maritime exercises, in international waters in the South China Sea and on Changi Naval Base in Singapore.
: ASEAN holds 7th ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) online, discussing maritime security, stability in the Mekong region, terrorism and North Korea. Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller participants. Miller, however, is in the region and visits the Philippines and Indonesia.
: US Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett visits the Philippines to meet with a broad spectrum of Philippine defense and security officials, including Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Gilbert Gapay and Air Force Commander Lt. General Allen Paredes. Her visit coincides with the handoff to the Philippine Navy of a ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial System drone to strengthen Philippine maritime domain awareness.
: US National Security Advisor O’Brien visits the Philippines and meets with his counterpart, Philippine National Security Advisor Hermogenes Espero and other top officials. O’Brien announces the delivery of new US military assistance in support of emergency counterterrorism needs and disaster relief for recent typhoon victims.
: Bipartisan group of eight Senate and House members call on the State Department to levy stronger sanctions on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen for a wave of new arrests of opposition figures, journalists and activists.
: Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan visits Washington to discuss expansion of Indonesian-US trade and investment relations. He signs a $750 million memorandum of understanding with the US Export-Import Bank for infrastructure financing and pitched the new Indonesian sovereign wealth fund to the Development Finance Corporation. Luhut met Vice President Mike Pence and had an unscheduled meeting in the Oval Office with President Trump and White House Advisors Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
: US Coast Guard instructors conduct a Small Boat Operations course in Manila for Philippine Coast Guard participants, to enhance maritime law enforcement capability. It marks the first training event conducted by the USCG in the Philippines since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is signed in Hanoi, creating the world’s largest trade bloc.
: 15th East Asia Summit (EAS) is held via video conference, hosted by Vietnam as the ASEAN chair. Washington is represented by National Security Advisor Robert O’Brief, who also participated with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in the 2019 EAS.
: Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin announces that President Rodrigo Duterte will extend the US-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) another six months to give the two countries time to negotiate a more permanent continuation of the agreement amid growing tensions with China in the South China Sea.
: General elections conducted in Myanmar in most of the country, although some polls are cancelled in conflict zones. Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy wins an absolute majority in Parliament, although the constitution still gives the military a quarter of seats in the legislature and other forms of political leverage.
: Pompeo meets Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi and announces a $2 million assistance package to strengthen response to Tropical Storm Linfa and Typhoon Molave.
: United States Trade Representative (USTR) announces that the Trump administration will suspend $817 million in trade preferences for Thailand under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) because of continued restrictions on US pork products. USTR also announces that, following eligibility reviews of Indonesia and Laos, both countries will retain their GSP benefits.
: The Indo-Pacific Business Forum, co-hosted by Vietnam and the United States, is convened online in Hanoi.
: Indonesian Parliament passes a controversial omnibus bill that covers investment, taxation, labor, the environment, and other areas related to the country’s economic development.
: Secretary of State Pompeo visits Indonesia and meets President Joko Widodo, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, and other officials.
: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper meets Indonesian Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto at the Pentagon to discuss regional security, bilateral defense, and defense acquisitions. They sign a Memorandum of Intent to restart work in Indonesia to recover the remains of US personnel lost in World War II. Prabowo, a former commander of Indonesia’s special forces that had been under US sanctions for human rights abuses, had not visited the US in over 20 years.
: The annual US-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue is held virtually. Convened after normalization of relations, the Dialogue has continued without disruption for 24 years.
: The United States and Vietnam conduct the 11th US-Vietnam Political, Security and Defense Dialogue, discussing defense cooperation, maritime security, and war legacy issue.
: US announces an additional $200 million in humanitarian assistance to benefit Muslim Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and those in Rakhine State in Myanmar, for a total of $437 million in Fiscal Year 2020.
: 11th US-Singapore Strategic Security Policy Dialogue convenes in Singapore, co-chaired by Acting Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy James Anderson and Singapore Permanent Secretary of Defense Chan Heng Kee. They discuss the COVID-19 response across the region, developments in the South China Sea, and counterterrorism.
: The United States imposes sanctions on Chinese state-owned Union Development Group for its role in corrupt activities in Cambodia. Beyond corruption, the US is concerned that the UDG project at Dara Sakor could be used to host Chinese military assets.
: ASEAN holds 27th ASEAN Regional Forum meeting virtually, attended by 26 ARF participating countries and entities, including North Korea and the European Union.
: Foreign ministers of Southeast Asian Mekong countries and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launch the Mekong-US Partnership, successor to the Lower Mekong Initiative.
: Commerce Department announces that it will add 24 Chinese companies to its sanctions list for implementing the Chinese government’s island-building activities in the South China Sea.
: Vietnam issues Decree No 99/2020/BD-CP, declaring illegal any unlicensed activity related to oil and gas exploration in Vietnamese territory. While the decree applies to both Vietnamese and foreign actors, it is more narrowly directed at China. The declaration comes on the heels of a second protest from Hanoi in two months against Chinese naval maneuvers in the Paracel Islands.
: State Department issues a statement marking the 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. Since 2017, the US has provided $951 million in humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya, in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
: Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisolith and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang host the 3rd Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Meeting by video-conference. The five Lower Mekong countries and China discuss the 300 cooperative projects under the LMC; the establishment of a special fund; and Beijing’s concept of a new International Land-Sea Trade Corridor on the Mekong.
: 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.
: The European Union begins imposing customs duties on Cambodian exports to the EU over human rights concerns, hitting 20% of total Cambodian exports to the EU. The sanctions will particularly affect the garment sector, already weakened by the COVID pandemic.
: Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group enters the South China Sea to conduct maritime air defense operations.
: State Department releases a statement of concern after the conviction and sentencing of 8 members of the Hien Phap organization, a press freedom collective, in Vietnam, who were given more than 40 years in prison.
: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has a series of telephone calls with Southeast Asian claimant states in the South China Sea on the July 13 statement of US policy on maritime claims in the South China Sea. He talks with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh; speaks with Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin; and confers with Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia/Pacific Stillwell and Deputy Foreign Minister Thongphane Savanphet of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic co-chair the 33rd US-ASEAN Dialogue. Laos serves as current coordinator of ASEAN affairs with the US. The virtual dialogue focused on the need for a peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea in accordance with the UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling. Stillwell affirmed US intentions to expand its partnerships on the Mekong.
: Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announces that President Duterte has barred the Philippines from participating in exercises in international waters in the South China Sea. The following day Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque clarifies that Duterte feared Philippine participation would contribute to tensions between China and the US, and that Manila maintains an independent foreign policy.
: Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun delivers remarks at a virtual celebration of the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the US and Vietnam, hosted by the Vietnam Embassy in Washington. He details the breadth of current relations, from joint efforts to address the continuing impact of Agent Orange to regular dialogues on human rights, to a trade relationship that has grown to $77 billion. Biegun also announces the completion of an agreement to place US Peace Corps Volunteers in Vietnam for the first time.
: Philippine President Duterte delivers his fifth State of the Union Address. He cautions against military clashes with China in the South China Sea, saying that “China has the arms, we do not,” and signals that Manila will rely upon “diplomatic endeavors” to defend its territorial rights.
: Stillwell participates in the 27th ASEAN Regional Forum Senior Officials Meeting, hosted virtually by Vietnam as the 2020 ASEAN Chair. Stillwell emphasizes Washington’s commitment to supporting ASEAN’s economic recovery, among other objectives.
: 19th iteration of the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) event is conducted as a virtual maritime domain awareness symposium, with planning and logistical support from the Western Pacific/Task Force 73. It draws the largest-ever number of participants, including nine from Southeast Asia (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam).
: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia/Pacific David Stillwell represents the US at the East Asia Summit Senior Officials Meeting, hosted by Hanoi via video-conference. He proposes that the EAS, scheduled to be held in November, discuss China’s imposition of a national security law in Hong Kong; the Rohingya crisis; and the need for North Korea to abide by UN Security Council resolutions.
: In commemoration of the 4th anniversary of its win in the 2016 arbitral tribunal regarding the South China Sea, Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin vows that Manila will “adhere without compromise” to the court victory and that the decision is “non-negotiable.” The same day, the US Embassy in Manila releases a detailed position paper by US Ambassador Sung Kim on the ecological and economic importance of the West Philippine Sea, emphasizing US support to the Philippine Coast Guard in protecting the Philippines’ EEZ.
: Economic team in the administration of Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, including Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and Finance Minister Utaama Savanayana resign. It is viewed as a sign that Thailand, suffering the worst economic downturn in Southeast Asia as a result of COVID, is struggling to formulate a plan for economic recovery.
: Guided missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnsonconducts freedom of navigation operations in the waters off the Spratly Islands.
: US State Department issues a lengthy statement on the US position on maritime claims in the South China Sea, sharply calling out Beijing for “intimidation to undermine the sovereign rights of Southeast Asian coastal states in the South China Sea, bully them out of offshore resources, assert unilateral dominion, and replace international law with ‘might makes right.’” The statement officially aligns the US position on maritime claims with the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal decision under UNCLOS.
: Singapore holds 13th general elections, which are won by Prime Minister Lee Hsien-Loong to office and the People’s Action Party (which has held power continuously since 1959). The margin of victory and issues raised in the campaign spark questions about the ability of the PAP to maintain its political monopoly.
: US State Department issues a statement commending Indonesia for providing humanitarian assistance to 99 Rohingya refugees arriving in Aceh province. The statement also criticizes the Myanmar army for a recent offensive in Rathedaung Township in Rakhine State.
: Gen James McConville, chief of Staff of the US Army, visits Thailand to meeting with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Thai Army Chief Gen. Apart Kongsompong. McConville and his delegation become the first foreign officials to visit Thailand since the Thai government closed its borders because of COVID-19. McConville and Apart sign a Strategic Vision Statement, intended to aid the two allies in tailoring military-to-military cooperation in the face of COVID-19 and other challenges. The July statement builds on a broader Strategic Vision Statement signed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Prime Minister Prayuth Nov. 19, 2019.
: 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. Vietnam claims that the exercises are a violation of Vietnamese sovereignty and that they complicate efforts of ASEAN and China to reach agreement on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. Vietnam is quickly joined in the protest by the Philippines.
: ASEAN holds its 36th Annual Summit, chaired by Vietnam, via video-conference. Although the Summit focused primarily on responses to the COVID pandemic, the Chairman’s Statement diverged from those of recent years in its treatment of tensions in the South China Sea, with a more explicit reference to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as the basis for dispute settlement.
: State Department issues a statement expressing concern over a trial court’s verdict against journalists Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santos in the Philippines. They were convicted in on June 15 of libeling a wealthy businessman by citing an intelligence report that linked him to drug smuggling and human trafficking.
: The 7th Airman-to-Airman Talks between Thailand and the US are held virtually, with the Pacific Air Force, the Royal Thai Air Force, and the Washington Air National Guard (the State partner to the Thai Air Force).
: The USS Theodore Rooseveltleaves Guam Naval Base and enters the Philippine Sea, on a scheduled deployment to the US 7th Fleet area of operations.
: 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.
: US littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords and Singaporean frigate RSS Steadfastconduct bilateral exercises on the South China Sea to enhance interoperability between the two navies. The events, which include a maneuvering exercise and large- and small-caliber gun firings, are conducted with social distancing measures.
: US Embassy in Bangkok hosts a video-conferenced unveiling of a report by Eyes of Earth, Inc., on the impact of changes on the Mekong River, supported by the Lower Mekong Initiative. With data from 1992 to 2019, the report looks at how upstream dams alter the natural flow of the river.
: Two US B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomber Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base fly a 32-hour roundtrip sortie over the South China Sea as part of a joint mission of the US Indo-Pacific Command and the US Strategic Command Bomber Task Force.
: United States and ASEAN members states hold a virtual Special ASEAN-US Foreign Ministers Meeting on COVID-19, co-chaired by Pompeo and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.
: State Department condemns attacks on World Health Organization (WHO) officials working to combat COVID-19 in Rakhine State, resulting in the death of one WHO worker.
: Two US warships—the USS America amphibious assault ship and the USS Bunker Hill, a guided missile cruiser—enter contested waters off Malaysia, where a Chinese naval vessel had been tailing a Malaysian state oil company ship conducting oil exploration.
: In lieu of an in-person meeting for the first ASEAN Summit of the year, Hanoi conducts a video summit, chaired by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The in-person summit is tentatively moved to June.
: Following the virtual ASEAN Summit, Prime Minister Phuc hosts a video Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on Coronavirus Disease 2019, which includes China, Japan, and South Korea.
: The Philippines publicly expresses solidarity with Vietnam after the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat, citing a need for all parties in the South China Sea to adhere to international maritime law.
: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, to discuss US assistance to Phomn Penh to combat COVID-19 and continued US concerns about the erosion of democracy and human rights in Cambodia.
: State Department expresses “serious concern” about reports of the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel by Chinese ships in the South China Sea.
: Chinese vessels rams and sink a Vietnamese fishing boat off the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Although China has held the Paracels since 1974, Vietnam continues to assert its claim to the islands.
: The first ASEAN-US High Level Interagency Video Conference to Counter COVID-19 is conducted, co-chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Qoc Szung and Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell.
: State Department issues statement expressing concern over escalating violence in northern Rakhine and Chin states in Myanmar, citing thousands of locals that are displaced.
: US Indo-Pacific Command announces cancellation of the 2020 Balikatan exercises with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, originally scheduled for May 4-15. They are cancelled due to concerns for the health and safety of participating forces and local populations.
: State Department issues a statement criticizing the conviction of Vietnamese blogger and Radio Free Asia contributor Truon Duy Nhat, who is believed to have been seized in Bangkok in January 2019. Nhat is sentenced to 10 years in prison.
: The 6th Annual Bersama Warrior exercises open in Kuala Lumpur, bringing together US and Malaysian Armed Forces. This year’s meeting is a staff exercise to prepare for the 2021 Combined Post exercise.
: USS Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group visits DaNang for an historic port call that marks the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the United States. The ship is only the second carrier to visit Vietnam in more than 40 years. While in DaNang, the crew participates in several volunteer activities, including at the Agent Orange Center of DaNang.
: The United States announces it will provide $59 million additional aid for Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and host Bangladeshi communities, bringing the total of US humanitarian assistance to $820 million since August 2017, when nearly 1 million Rohingya fled after a crackdown by the Tatamadaw in Rakhine State.
: Muhyiddin Yassin is sworn in as Malaysia’s eighth prime minister, although his predecessor, Mahathir Mohamed, claimed he had majority support in Parliament. Technically, Muhyiddin’s term will run until September 16, 2023, by which point general elections must be called.
: The Trump administration announces it is postponing the US-ASEAN Summit because of travel difficulties and other issues related to COVID-19. No date for a new summit is set.
: Combined counter-terrorism exercises in Palawan between US Army Special Operations Forces and elite contingents of the Philippine 18th Special Forces Company conclude after a month. The exercises are held under the US-sponsored Joint/Combined Exchange Training (JEET) program.
: The 39th iteration of Cobra Gold exercises are held in Thailand, with seven countries participating as full partners and numerous other countries as observers. The world’s longest-running military exercises, this year’s round focuses on amphibious assult, humanitarian civic action and defensive cybersecurity.
: US Coast Guard conducts a “Train the Trainers” course in small boat operations with the Philippine Coast Guard, part of bilateral cooperation to enhance maritime law enforcement capability in the Philippines.
: US Embassy in Manila hosts a flag-raising ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s raising of the US flag over the embassy grounds during the Battle of Manila in 1945. It is one of a series of events to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
: The USS Paul Hamilton, a guided missile destroyer that is part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, arrives in Singapore for a port visit.
: The Philippine government announces it is in discussions with Russia on a joint military agreement. This is followed by a February 17 meeting between Igor Khavaev, Russian Ambassador to Manila, and Felimon Santos, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The two countries are said to be moving toward completion of a joint military technical agreement.
: The European Union announces that it will suspend a portion of its trade preferences to Cambodia under the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) program that enables lower-income countries to export to the EU without tariffs or quotas, except for military weapons. The decision was based on the Hun Sen regime’s efforts to eliminate the political opposition as well as new curbs on the media and civil society organizations.
: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces that he intends to terminate the US-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), beginning a process that, if pursued, will conclude in late 2020.
: Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun meets with Philippines Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin in Washington.
: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Laotian Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith in Washington. Laos is the current ASEAN coordinator for relations with the United States. The two diplomats discuss plans for the (later cancelled) US-ASEAN Summit, scheduled for March 14 in Las Vegas, as well as strengthening the US-Laos Comprehensive Partnership.
: International Court of Justice issues a provisional order on the case against the Myanmar government for genocide against Muslim Rohingya in late 2017. In response to a request from The Gambia, Myanmar is ordered to prevent genocidal acts against the Rohingya while the case in is progress.
: Chinese President Xi Jinping makes his first-ever visit to Myanmar in his capacity as president and the first Chinese head of state to visit in 20 years. He meets State Counselor/Foreign Minister Aung Sang Suu Kyi and Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing. His visit sparks agreement that the two countries will move forward with the Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone and, most important, its planned deepsea port.
: Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly makes his inaugural visit to Singapore and meets Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen; Chief of Singaporean Defense Forces Lt. Gen. Melvyn Ong; and Chief of Navy Rear Adm. Lew Chuen Hong.
: President Joko Widodo visits a military base on the Nantuna Islands to underscore Indonesian sovereignty in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which includes the Nantunas, after Chinese vessels intruded into the EEZ.
: The Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, commanded by Rear Adm. Michael Boyle, hosts leaders of the Royal Thai Army, Navy, and Air Force to allow them to see US naval carrier operations firsthand.
: The State Department re-designates Myanmar as one of 10 “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, for having engaged in or tolerated “systemic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.” The primary reason for designating Myanmar, the only listed Southeast Asian country, is the repression of Muslim Rohingya.
: Thai police file charges against Thanathorn Juangroomgruangkit, leader of the opposition Future Forward Party, for mounting a public demonstration to protest government actions against the FFP. On Nov. 20 the Thai Constitutional Court stripped Thanathorn of his seat in Parliament for having invested in a media company while he was a candidate in the March election.
: Assistant Secretary of State Stilwell visits Hanoi to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the normalization of US-Vietnam relations and discuss priorities for Vietnam’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2020 and its term membership on the United Nations Security Council in 2020-2021.
: Myanmar State Counselor Aung Sang Suu Kyi addresses the International Court of Justice in The Hague, responding to charges of genocide by Myanmar against Muslim Rohingya.
: US and Indonesia convene a Nuclear Security Insider Threat Mitigation Workshop in Serpong, Indonesia, bringing to completion eight years of cooperation to strengthen nuclear security in Indonesia.
: James Richardson, State Department director of US foreign assistance resources, visits Vietnam to review US assistance under the US-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership. On Dec. 13 he tours Bien Hoa Airbase, where USAID is helping to design a plan to remediate the largest remaining hotspot of dioxin contamination in Vietnam. On Dec. 5 the US and Vietnamese governments officially launched remediation operations at Bien Hoa; the US has committed to provide $300 million to restore the airbase and surrounding areas.
: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte approves a recommendation to end martial law in the southern Philippines, more than two years after the Armed Forces of the Philippines defeated militants linked to the Islamic State (IS), who took over the city of Marawi for 5 months in 2017.
: Commander of the US Pacific Fleet Adm. John Aquilino visits Thailand to strengthen relations with the Thai Navy and to witness the procession of the Royal Barge.
: Esper and Singaporean Minister of Defense Ng Eng Hen meet on the sidelines of the Reagan National Defense Forum in Washington and sign a nonbinding MOU to establish a Singapore Air Force permanent fighter training facility in Guam. Training will commence in 2029.
: The State Department designates Cambodian government official Kun Kim, his wife, and children as foreign officials involved in significant corruption under Section 7031(c) of the 2019 State Department Authorization Act. Kun Kim was a senior general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and allegedly profited from relationships with a Chinese state-owned enterprise. The Treasury Department subsequently announces that it will impose sanctions on him.
: Amb. Nathan Sales, State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism, visits Manila to discuss joint US-Philippine efforts to stem terrorism financing.
: Esper visits Vietnam in his new role. In a speech at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, he accuses China of using coercion against smaller Asian nations to impose its will in the South China Sea. In a meeting at the headquarters of the Vietnamese Communist Party he expresses strong US opposition to “violations of international law by China and excessive claims in the South China Sea.” Esper also announces that the US will provide Vietnam’s Coast Guard with a surplus US ship in 2020.
: Esper makes first visit to the Philippines in his new capacity. He meets Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin. In response to continued pressure from Manila to review the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, Esper reiterates the US commitment to the MDT.
: The 6th iteration of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus, the only official Defense Ministers dialogue framework in the Asia-Pacific region, is held in Bangkok. The 10 ASEAN defense ministers and their counterparts from the US, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and Russia participate.
: On the margins of the ADMM-Plus, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper meets Prabowo Subianto, newly appointed Indonesian minister of defense. They agree to expand military education for Indonesian armed forces.
: The 14th East Asia Summit is held in Bangkok. Eighteen governments participated in the aummit, which was chaired by Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the 2019 ASEAN Chair. Compared to previous years, the US delegation was reduced, represented by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.
: Protesting scaled-down US representation at the EAS, seven of 10 ASEAN governments reduce their representation at the follow-on US-ASEAN Summit by sending their foreign ministers rather than heads of government.
: 2019 Indo-Pacific Business Forum, co-chaired by Thailand and the United States, opens in Bangkok. It brings together nearly 1,000 government officials, private sector actors, and analysts to expand cooperation in areas such as energy, infrastructure, and the digital economy. On the margins of the forum, the US and ASEAN announce that they will begin formal negotiations to streamline customs procedures through the ASEAN Single Window.
: The State Department releases progress report on implementation of the US whole-of-government strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, presented on the margins of the East Asia Summit (EAS) by Keith Krach, undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy Security and the Environment.
: Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback visits Thailand to deliver remarks at the 5th Annual Southeast Asia Freedom of Religion or Belief Conference.
: US Department of Justice announces that it has struck a deal to recoup $1 billion in funds allegedly looted from the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) by fugitive financier Jho Low, by seizing assets Low was holding in the US, including a private jet and real estate in Beverly Hills. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad responded with a statement that Malaysia would file a claim on the forfeited assets.
: On his way to the East Asia Summit in Bangkok, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell makes two first-time trips to Southeast Asian countries in his new capacity. He visits Myanmar Oct. 27-30, which trip includes Rakhine State where he meets government and community leaders, as well as with victims of violence in the ethnic conflict. In Malaysia Oct. 30-Nov. 1, Stilwell follows an agenda that touches on the full complement of policy areas in the US-Malaysia relationship.
: Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, visits Singapore, his first trip to the country in his current capacity.
: Joko Widodo is inaugurated as president of Indonesia for a second term, after winning the April 2019 election with 55.5% of the popular vote against Prabowo Subianto. He is sworn in under high security, since an Islamic State-linked bombing plot related to the election was foiled in the early summer. On Oct. 23 Joko announces his new Cabinet, with a surprise appointment of former general Prabowo Subianto as defense m,inister.
: US and Philippine navies and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force conduct Third Annual Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama. The exercises feature both shore-based and at-sea activities.
: US and ASEAN convene first session of the US-ASEAN Cyber Dialogue in Singapore, co-chaired by the United States and Laos, and addresses 5G technology, the digital economy, and cyber capacity building.
: Marines and sailors from the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit participate in Tiger Strike exercises in Malaysia to promote interoperability between US and Malaysian armed forces.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce visits Thailand and Myanmar. In Bangkok she attends the 2019 Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) meeting. In Myanmar she delivers remarks on elections and the importance of democracy at the American Center in Yangon.
: US House of Representatives passes HR 3190, the Burma Unified Rigorous Military Accountability Act of 2019, which seeks to tighten sanctions on Myanmar and strengthen support for the Muslim Rohingya. The bill is under consideration by the Senate.
: US announces an additional $127 million in humanitarian assistance to Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh, as well as to internally displaced Rohingya in Rakhine State. Since the outbreak of violence in Rakhine in August 2017, the US has contributed $669 million in humanitarian aid.
: On the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, President Donald Trump and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien-Loong renew the 1990 US-Singapore Memorandum of Understanding Regarding United States Use of Facilities in Singapore, extending the agreement for another 15 years.
: Idaho National Guard soldiers and airmen participate in an expert exchange with members of the Cambodian Armed Forces at the UN Peacekeeping Operations Center in Phnom Penh. They trained with member of Cambodia’s Peacekeeping Directorate preparing to deploy to several countries for mine clearance activities.
: Senior leaders of US Army Pacific and the Royal Thai Army come together for a handover of Stryker helicopters, which Thailand purchased through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The Strykers are symbolic of the restoration of full military-to-military relations following Thailand’s general elections in March 2019.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon travels to Thailand to attend the ASEAN Ministers of Energy meeting and related regional energy conferences. Fannon’s trip was also intended to advance the new Japan-US Mekong Power Partnership (JUMPP) announced in August 2019.
: The first ASEAN-US Maritime Exercises are conducted, involving eight warships, four aircraft from seven countries, and more than 1,000 personnel representing the 10 ASEAN member states and the US. Co-led by the US and Thai navies, the exercises had shore-based activities in Thailand, Singapore, and Brunei and a sea phase in international waters, including the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea.
: USS Wayne E. Meyersails near Fiery Cross and Mischief Reef “to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways governed by international law.”
: President Duterte visits China, his fifth official visit since assuming office. He is under domestic pressure to insist on the authority of the 2016 UNCLOS determination on Manila’s petition against China which President Xi predictably downplays.
: Assistant Secretary of State Stilwell visits Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Brunei, and Singapore.
: Indonesian government announces it will move the country’s capital to Borneo. If Parliament approves, the $33 billion relocation will commence in 2020 and conclude in 2024.
: State Department issues a second statement of concern on Chinese interference with Vietnam’s oil and gas activities in Vietnam’s EEZ. The statement questions China’s commitment to the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
: Indonesian police and military personnel storm a Papuan student dormitory in East Java, accusing the students of damaging the Indonesian flag on the 74th anniversary of the country’s independence. The incident sparks riots in Papua.
: Gen. Joel Vowell of the US Indo-Pacific Command says that Cambodia and China will begin construction on the Ream Naval Base in 2020.
: The 26th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is held in Bangkok. Several other regional meetings held in conjunction include the US-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and the 10th anniversary meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI). At the LMI meeting, the US and Japan announce a partnership to strengthen the regional electrical grid on mainland Southeast Asia. Assuming congressional approval, Washington will provide $29.5 million for the project.
: Six small bombs explode around Bangkok as US Secretary of State Pompeo delivers a speech at the Siam Society on Thailand’s “return to democracy.”
: Thailand and the US announce agreement for Bangkok to purchase Stryker infantry-carrier vehicles under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, a signal that normal military-to-military relations have been restored.
: The first elected Thai Parliament in over five years opens in Bangkok.
: Wall Street Journal article describes a secret agreement between Cambodia and China to repurpose the Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand as a naval facility for the exclusive use of the Chinese Navy.
: State Department releases a statement commemorating the 10th anniversary of the US accession to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC).
: With Thailand as chair, the first ASEAN Summit of 2019 is held in Bangkok.
: State Department issues a statement of concern over China’s interference in oil and gas exploration in at the South China Sea, singling out Vietnam’s energy explorations in its own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It estimates that Chinese coercion prevents ASEAN members from accessing more than $2.5 trillion in energy resources in the South China Sea.
: State Department announces it will place visa sanctions on four high-ranking Myanmar military officers for their involvement in the 2017 crackdown against Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine State. Foremost among them is Ming Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces.
: Thailand PM Prayut resigns as head of the military government to return to “normal democracy” after five years of junta rule.
: United States and the Philippines conduct eighth Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Manila. Assistant Secretary of State Stilwell and Assistant Secretary of Defense Randall Schriver lead the US delegation; Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo and National Defense Undersecretary Cesar Yano head the Philippine team.
: Indonesian President Widodo delivers a major policy speech in West Java, laying out priorities for his second term, most of which focus on promoting economic growth.
: State Department releases a statement criticizing the shutdown of mobile data services in violence-affected areas of Rakhine and Chin states in Myanmar.
: Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc promises that Vietnam will import more liquified natural gas (LNG) from the United States after meeting President Trump on the margins of the G20 Summit in Osaka,
: Indonesia’s Constitutional Court rejects Prabowo Subianto’s claim that he was the victim of voter fraud in the presidential election in May.
: President Trump says that Hanoi “treats the United States even worse than China does” on trade and threatens to impose new tariffs on Vietnamese goods entering the US.
: Southeast Asian leaders meet in Bangkok for 34th ASEAN summit. They adopt a declaration to combat plastic pollution in oceans and release statements regarding regional economic and security collaboration, de-escalation of tensions in the South China Sea, and investigations into human rights violations in Myanmar.
: PM Prayut announces that his administration will provide $200 million as seed capital for the Ayeyawady-Chaopraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Fund.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon visits Vietnam and Thailand to discuss energy security and regional cooperation on energy issues. His trip highlights Asia EDGE (Enlarging Development and Growth Through Energy), the energy component of the State Department’s Indo-Pacific Strategy.
: Philippine fishing vessel is rammed and sunk by a Chinese trawler in the South China Sea near Reed Bank, leaving 22 fishermen to be rescued by a passing Vietnamese ship.
: Thai Prime Minister Prayut, leader of the junta National Council for Peace of Order (NCPO), is inaugurated as elected prime minister.
: Pentagon releases the first Department of Defense Indo-Pacific Strategy Paper, which outlines a whole-of-government approach to US policy in the Indo-Pacific region.
: Shangri-La Dialogue is held in Singapore. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien-Loong gives the keynote address.
: Pentagon announces that it will sell 34 ScanEagle surveillance drones to Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam to more closely monitor “destabilizing actors” in the South China Sea.
: Secretary of State Pompeo meets Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Washington to discuss efforts to strengthen the US-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership.
: Indonesia’s General Elections Commission officially declares incumbent Joko Widodo winner of the April 17 presidential election. Indonesian officials thwart an ISIS plot to launch bombing attacks on the day of the announcement. Six of the nine militants arrested had recently returned from Syria.
: USS Prebleconducts 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.”
: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan meet in Washington to discuss the US-Singapore Strategic Partnership, with emphasis on reducing threats related to terrorism and proliferation.
: US Coast Guard cutter Bertholfpractices search-and-rescue exercises with Philippines Coast Guard vessels BRP Batangas and BRP Kalanggaman near Scarborough Shoal.
: Philippines holds mid-term elections, which are widely viewed as a referendum on the administration and policies of President Rodrigo Duterte.
: Election Commission of Thailand announces official results of March 24 general elections. Since no party garnered a majority of votes, furious deal-making begins for a government coalition led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s Palang Pracharat Party and an opposition coalition under the pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party.
: Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn is crowned in Bangkok. Vajiralongkorn inherited the throne in 2016 when his father, Bhumibol Adjulyadej, died after a 70-year reign.
: State Department Undersecretary for Political Affairs David Hale travels to Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Japan. In Jakarta he marks the 70th anniversary of US-Indonesian relations. In Thailand Hale confers with Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials on Thailand’s role as the 2019 ASEAN Chair.
: Indonesia arrests 12 of 14 Vietnamese fishermen who were on a boat fishing in the Natuna Sea. The Indonesian Navy reports that one of the two Vietnamese Coast Guard boats that arrived rammed the Indonesian patrol vessel. The Vietnamese fishing boat sinks on site.
: Chinese President Xi Jinping hosts the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. Southeast Asia sends the second-largest contingent of top leaders.
: State Department protests the decision by Myanmar’s Supreme Court to uphold the sentences of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.
: US signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Vietnam to contain dioxin remaining from Agent Orange spraying during the Vietnam War. Washington commits $183 million to the project, which will take 10 years. USAID also signs a “memorandum of intent” to assist Vietnamese living with disabilities believed to be tied to dioxin exposure.
: Indonesia holds general elections. For the first time, a single election allows the country’s 180 million voters to choose a president, legislators, and provincial officials on the same day, making it the largest election in human history. Official results will be announced May 22, but “quick count” polls indicate that incumbent President Joko Widodo defeated Prabowo Subianto.
: Washington (State) National Guard and the Washington Emergency Management Division participate in the first Malaysian Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response Civil-Military Course, organized by the Malaysian Armed Forces.
: US INDOPACOM Commander Adm. Davidson makes his first official visit to Vietnam with stops in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to meet officials including Vietnamese Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich, signs an agreement on disabilities assistance, and oversees the launch of a “US-funded project on dioxin contamination remediation at Bien Hoa airport.
: US and Thai naval forces conduct Guardian Sea exercises in the Andaman Sea, emphasizing anti-submarine warfare.
: Two military helicopters attack a village in Rakhine state on a mission to “(crack) down on the Arakan Army’s terrorist activities.” The number of fatalities is unclear due to conflicting reports, but victims are identified as Rohingya refugees.
: State Department issues a statement critical of Brunei’s decision to implement Phases Two and Three of the Sharia Penal Code, which contain penalties of death by stoning for gay sex and adultery.
: Representatives from all branches of the US armed forces and the Armed Forces of the Philippines conduct the 35th iteration of the Balikatan (“Shoulder to Shoulder”) exercises. The two militaries are joined in some phases by the Australian Defense Forces. The exercises include 28 major combined or joint interoperability events, focusing on counterterrorism, amphibious operations, live-fire, urban operations, and aviation operations.
: United States and Laos host the 32nd US-ASEAN Dialogue in Washington, co-hosted by State Department Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs W. Patrick Murphy and Lao Deputy Foreign Minister Thongphone Savenphet. They discuss the importance of maritime security to regional stability, combatting maritime plastic pollution, and illegal fishing.
: Ninth US-Laos Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue is held in Washington, D.C. Topics include fostering a free and open Indo-Pacific, upholding the rule of law in the South China Sea, and countering transnational crime. Laos currently serves as the US country coordinator within ASEAN.
: Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a confirmation hearing for David Stilwell, nominated to be assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. In his testimony, Stilwell reaffirms ASEAN centrality in Asian regional affairs and promises to strengthen US security relations with the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam.
: Seven pro-democracy parties form a coalition to secure a majority in Thailand’s House of Representatives to oppose the military-backed National Council for Peace and Order.
: Thailand holds general elections. By the end of April, no official results are announced, in part due to uncertainty in the Election Commission on the methodology for counting votes.
: US Ambassador to Indonesia Joseph Donovan unveils the new US Embassy in Jakarta, which will house the US Mission to Indonesia and the US Mission to ASEAN. He is joined by Chargé Jane Bocklage, who heads the US Mission to ASEAN in the absence of a confirmed US ambassador to ASEAN.
: The 25th round of Cope Tiger exercises, a set of multilateral field training exercises among the air forces of the US, Singapore, and Thailand, are held in Thailand. The three services fly a combined total of 776 sorties and focused on air superiority, command and control, close air support, interdiction, electronic warfare, and tactical airlift.
: Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Missouri) introduces the Southeast Asia Strategy Act into Congress. The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Florida) would require the secretaries of state, defense, and commerce to submit a multi-year strategy for engagement with Southeast Asia to Congress. The bill is referred to committee for action.
: United States, Japan, and Indonesia host a conference on Indonesia’s need for liquified natural gas (LNG). Government and private sector participants from the three countries discuss proposals for future projects to help meet Indonesia’s energy needs.
: President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un meet in Hanoi. The summit draws favorable attention to Vietnam.
: US Navy fleet replenishment oiler USNS Guadalupe and UK Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose conduct maritime security and logistics training in the South China Sea.
: Thailand and the US host the 38th iteration of the Cobra Gold exercises, involving 29 full participants, with China and India participating in civic action elements of the program.
: Spokesperson for the Philippine government announces that the US pledged $5.75 million in intelligence support to assist counterterrorism efforts in the Philippines.
: Myanmar’s Parliament agrees to form a committee that will consider amending the “undemocratic” portions of the country’s military-drafted Constitution.
: US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and Philippine Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana open a newly constructed warehouse for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in at Cesar Basa Air Base, the first major project under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The two countries have identified future EDCA projects in four other locations.
: On the southern Philippine island of Jolo 20 are killed and 111 wounded when two bombs explode in a cathedral during Sunday Mass. The Islamic State claims responsibility for the bombing through online bulletins.
: Thailand’s Election Commission announces that the first official general election since the military coup in 2014 will take place on March 24.
: US Pacific Air Forces and Philippine Air Force conduct the seventh iteration of the Bilateral Air Contingent Exchange-Philippines (BACE-P) at Cesar Basa Air Base in Pampanga.
: Spokespersons for Myanmar’s military announce that State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi ordered security forces to launch an offensive against the Arakan Army. Suu Kyi claims that if she did not order the military to attack the Arakan Army, “the international community would accuse her of religious prejudice for attacking the Muslim guerrillas of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army but not Buddhist rebels who committed similar actions with similar goals.”
: US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Southeast and South Asia Joseph Felter visits Cambodia to meet Cambodian defense officials to discuss strengthening US-Cambodian military-to-military relations. Felter emphasizes to Ministry of Defense Secretary Gen. Neang Phat that advances in military cooperation will depend in part on institutional reform in Cambodia, dropping charges against opposition leader Kim Sokha, and allowing civil society and media to operate freely.
: US State Department issues a statement expressing deep disappointment that the convictions of Reuters reporters and Pulitzer Prize winners Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are upheld by the Yangon High Court.
: Arakan Army attacks four police posts in the Buthidaung area in northern Rakhine, killing 13 policemen and injuring nine on the 71st anniversary of Myanmar’s independence from British rule. An Arakan Army spokesperson says the attack was a response to a Myanmar military offensive against the Arakan Army that had also targeted civilians.
: An unexpected tsunami, thought to be caused by the collapse of the Anak Krakatau volcano, hits the coast of Indonesia’ Sundra Strait, killing over 300 people and injuring over 1000.
: Congressman Ed Royce, then-chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Congressman Mike McCaul send letter to Secretary of State Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen expressing deep concern by reports of the administration’s intentions to deport Vietnamese immigrants “who have lived in the United States more than 23 years.”
: Malaysia’s Attorney General files criminal charges against three Goldman Sachs employees for attempting to embezzle $2.7 billion from the state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
: US returns the Bells of Balangiga to the Philippines after their removal from the Church of San Lorenzo de Martir following a violent episode between US forces and Filipino revolutionaries over 100 years ago.
: Following on Mahathir’s comments in Singapore, in an interview with the Financial Times Anwar Ibrahim, leader of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) party in Malaysia, demands that Goldman Sachs return $826.59 million it collected to raise bonds for 1MDB.
: Guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsvilleconducts a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea by sailing near the Paracel Islands. A Chinese vessel shadowed the Chancellorsville as it sailed past the islands, but all interactions “were deemed safe and professional,” according to anonymous US officials.
: Senate Human Rights Caucus, led by Sen. Thom Tillis, issues a statement applauding Vice President Pence for “affirming the United States’ commitment to a free and independent press and delivering a strong criticism of the treatment of the Rohingya” during his meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi.
: State Department releases statement welcoming the judgment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia that found two Khmer Rouge leaders, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, guilty of crimes against humanity when the Khmer Rouge were in power in Cambodia 1975-79.
: Vice President Pence addresses the East Asia Summit in Singapore and says there is no place for “empire and aggression” in the Indo-Pacific region. He emphasizes that smaller countries must be allowed to prosper, an obvious reference to Southeast Asia.
: In a meeting with Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, Vice President Pence declares that the crackdown on Rohingya in Rakhine State in late 2017 by the Tatmadaw was “without excuse.” He calls on Suu Kyi to pardon two imprisoned Reuters journalists. Suu Kyi suggests the US position on these issues lacked understanding of conditions in Myanmar.
: At the ASEAN Meeting on Business and Investment in Singapore, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad says that Goldman Sachs “cheated Malaysia” in its dealings with the state fund 1MDB and indicates that the US government would help return fees that Goldman earned from the fund.
: The 33rd ASEAN Summit and other ASEAN-related meetings are held in Singapore. Thailand will assume the ASEAN chairmanship on Nov. 15.
: Fifth ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM-Plus) convenes in Singapore. Territorial disputes in the South China Sea are a focus of discussion, as well as disaster relief, maritime research, and antiterrorism efforts.
: Inaugural ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering, hosted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, is attended by leaders of Southeast Asian nations and the IMF, World Bank, and UN.
: US and the Philippines announce they will begin “scoping exercises” intended to move toward the negotiation of a free trade agreement in November. Since then, the timing for commencement of talks has slid into 2019.
: Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher Ford travels to Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand for consultations on policy measures to maintain “maximum pressure” on North Korea to promote denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.
: Congress passes the Better Utilization of Investment Leading to Development (BUILD) Act, which will create a new entity to aid US companies in developing partnerships abroad for infrastructure projects.
: US Navy carries out a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the Spratly Islands as the USS Decatur, a guided-missile destroyer, sails within 12 nm of Chinese artificial islands at Gaven and Johnson Reefs as part of a 10-hour patrol.
: A 7.4 magnitude earthquake and tsunami strikes the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, killing nearly 1,350 people.
: Vietnamese President Trang Dai Quang dies after a year-long illness. He is replaced by Communist Party Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, who will wear both the party and the state hats for the next two years.
: Myanmar’s government “resolutely rejects” a ruling by the International Criminal Court (ICC) that said the body has jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh as a possible crime against humanity.
: Singapore and Malaysia agree to postpone construction of the KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail until May 2020; Malaysia will pay Singapore $11 million for costs incurred in suspending the project.
: Court in Myanmar sentences Wa Lone and Kyaw See Oo, Reuters journalists, to seven years in prison for violating state secret laws related to their reporting on the killing of Muslim Rohingya by security forces.
: Indonesian Minister of Defense Ryamizard Ryacuda visits the Pentagon to discuss expansion of bilateral cooperation on maritime domain awareness.
: United Nations releases a report on the Rohingya refugee crisis, which maintains that the Tatmadaw had “genocidal intent” in the 2017 crackdown on Muslims in Rakhine State.
: Trump administration announces new sanctions on Myanmar related to the August 2017 crackdown on Muslim Rohingyas in Rakhine State.
: US and Malaysian navies open the 24th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Exercises.
: The 11th Ministerial Meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) is held on the margins of the ASEAN meetings in Singapore.
: Secretary Pompeo visits Jakarta; he meets President Joko Widodo and discusses bilateral cooperation under the US-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership.
: Secretary Pompeo attends his first ASEAN Regional Forum in his new capacity, and co-chairs the US-ASEAN Ministerial meeting.
: Secretary Pompeo visits Kuala Lumpur in advance of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Singapore and meets Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed.
: Secretary of State Pompeo delivers speech before the Indo-Pacific Forum of the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington, outlining the economic aspects of the US vision of an Indo-Pacific community.
: White House issues a statement heavily criticizing general elections in Cambodia, calling them “neither free nor fair.”
: Leading an international rescue team, Thai officials in Chiang Rai province evacuate the last of 12 members of a youth soccer team, with their coach, who had been trapped in an underground cave for 17 days. The US Department of Defense provided 42 military personnel, who assisted in planning and logistics and helped transport the evacuees through the final chambers of the cave system.
: US and Philippine naval forces conduct maritime training activity Sama Sama at Naval Station Ernesto Ogbinar in the Philippines. The engagement features fast transport ship USNS Millinocket and includes air defense, diving, and search and rescue.
: Secretary of State Pompeo visits Vietnam and meets senior officials, including Nguyen Phu Trong, secretary general of the Vietnamese Communist Party.
: State Department releases the 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report. Thailand is upgraded from the Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 2, while both Malaysia and Myanmar are downgraded (to the Tier 2 Watch List and Tier 3, respectively).
: Vietnam makes its debut in the 26-nation Rim of the Pacific Exercises (RIMPAC), which also included Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand.
: The 13th Annual Pacific Partnership Mission concludes after several weeks. Among the participants were the United States and five Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore). Focusing on humanitarian aid, the mission completed 765 host country activities.
: Pentagon hosts fifth US-Vietnam Dialogue on Maritime Issues and Law of the Sea in Washington. Washington and Hanoi will rotate in as new co-chairs of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus Working Group on Maritime Security in 2020.
: Singapore hosts high-profile summit meeting between President Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un. Singapore was selected as a venue, in part because the island city-state could provide a high degree of security.
: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi when she visits Washington.
: Secretary of Defense Mattis meets with several counterparts from Southeast Asia (Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam) at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Mattis also meets Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Conspicuously lacking from the agenda was a bilateral meeting with Thailand, an acknowledgement that security relations have not been normalized after the 2014 coup in Bangkok.
: US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis meets Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu in Honolulu, on the margins of the change of command ceremony at US Pacific Command.
: The Trump administration bars officials from Myanmar’s Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population and the Ministry of Home Affairs from receiving B1 or B2 visas to enter the US because of Myanmar’s refusal to accept the return of their nationals under final order of removal from the US.
: US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) removes seven state-owned enterprises and three state-owned banks in Myanmar from the Specially Designated Nations (SDN) list, leaving few Myanmar banks under OFAC sanctions. At the same time, six companies linked to the former regime are added to the list. On balance, these measures reflect US acknowledgement of progress in administrative reform in Myanmar.
: The 22nd US-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue is convened in Washington. Although the two countries continue to disagree on a number of issues, including an appropriate role for political dissidents, the dialogue has continued uninterrupted since its inception.
: State Department issues a statement in concert with calls from the Netherlands and Australia to hold Russia accountable for its role in the July 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, causing the deaths of 298 civilians. Despite urging from the Washington, ASEAN declines to join efforts to hold Moscow accountable.
: In the 2018 Special 301 Report, US Trade Representative places Indonesia on the Priority Watch List for failure to protect intellectual property rights or otherwise deny market access to US companies that rely upon protection of IPR. Of less concern, Thailand and Vietnam were placed on the Watch List for IPR.
: US and Thailand militaries conduct anti-submarine and domain awareness Guard Sea exercises in the Andaman Sea.
: State Department announces $50 million in additional aid to address conditions of Rohingya refugees and other affected population in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
: President Trump tweets that “While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP, I don’t like the deal for the United States.”
: In a meeting with members of Congress, President Trump reveals that he has asked US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House economic advisor Lawrence Kudlow to study the benefits and drawbacks of rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, raising hopes in the region, especially with Vietnam, of a US re-entry.
: Aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill arrive in Manila for a port visit.
: US Pacific Air Forces hosts first airman-to-airman talks with the Indonesian Air Force at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Expected to become an annual event, the two air forces discuss a broad spectrum of issues, from aviation safety to cybersecurity.
: Acting Assistant US Trade Representative for Southeast Asia Karl Ehlers meets Thai trade officials in Washington, to discuss reducing the US trade deficit with Thailand and other issues under the US-Thailand Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
: In a statement the State Department says it is “deeply troubled” by the conviction and sentencing of six dissidents in Vietnam.
: Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Susan Thornton visits Malaysia to co-chair the US-ASEAN Strategic Dialogue with Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary General Dato Ramlan Ibrahim.
: Southeast Asia phase of annual Pacific Partnership exercises opens in Begnkulu, Indonesia aboard the USNS Mercy. Involving 800 military and civilian personnel, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual disaster relief exercises in the Pacific region. Subsequent activities are conducted in Malaysia and Singapore.
: Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan meets Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman in Washington, in the context of establishing bilateral strategic partnerships with both countries.
: The US turns over the Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial System to the Philippine Air Force; the $13.2 million system is provided through the Foreign Military Financing (FMS) grant program.
: US and Indonesian air forces conduct Cope West 2018 exercises, designed to strengthen interoperability. The air forces fly 136 sorties and cover a broad range of capabilities, from air-to-air fighter training to aircraft maintenance.
: Aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson visits DaNang, accompanied by cruiser USS Lake Champlain and destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer, the first docking of a US aircraft carrier in Vietnam since the Vietnam War.
: Amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard arrives in Manila for a port visit, enabling US crew members to provide assistance to some of the 90,000 Filipinos displaced by the eruption of the Mayon volcano in January.
: Two US Congressional delegations, from the House Appropriations Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, visit Laos to discuss Lao government efforts to strengthen the rule of law and counter corruption.
: US and Thailand host 37th annual Cobra Gold exercises in Thailand with 29 partners, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia. The 2018 exercises focus on maritime security and response to large-scale natural disasters.
: 2nd Lt. Catherine Mae Gonzales becomes the first female aviator from the Philippines to be selected for the Aviation Leadership Program, a US Air Force scholarship.
: Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Carl Risch visits Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar to discuss legal obligations to accept the return of those countries’ nationals that have been ordered removed.
: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford meets Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Army Chief Gen. Ranchaiyan Srisuwan in Bangkok. Dunford is the first chairman to visit Thailand since 2012.
: At the Singapore Air Show, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Tina Kaidanow urges Southeast Asian governments to purchase US military equipment as a means of upholding freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
: Secretary Mattis visits Vietnam, his first trip to the country but the sixth visit by a US secretary of defense.
: Secretary of Defense James Mattis visits Indonesia, the first of two stops in Southeast Asia to strengthen what the National Defense Strategy terms “networked security architecture” while addressing a range of bilateral and multilateral issues, including the situations in Iraq and Syria.
: Singaporean and US air forces conduct the annual Commando Sling exercises at Paya Bebar Air Base in Singapore.
: Primarily because of the continuing crisis with Rohingya refugees, the State Department redesignates Myanmar as a “country of particular concern” on religious freedom.
: US and Singapore hold their 10th annual Counter-proliferation Dialogue in Singapore.
: Assistant Deputy Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Patrick Murphy visits Cambodia and asks Phnom Penh to continue supporting UN resolutions countering North Korean missiles and nuclear weapons. Cambodia’s secretary of state of foreign affairs avers that Cambodia supports the idea of Korea being a nuclear-free peninsula.
: US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun visits Thailand to encourage Thai government to enforce UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea.
: US and Singapore hold the seventh annual Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Washington.
: Secretary Tillerson says Myanmar’s Rohingya population was subjected to “ethnic cleansing,” accusing security forces of perpetrating “horrendous atrocities” against the Muslim minority.
: Secretary Tillerson visits Burma (Myanmar) and meets Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the nation’s military commander and State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi. He urges them to halt violence that has driven more than 600,000 Rohingya from Rakhine State to flee to Bangladesh.
: President Trump skips the East Asia Summit in the Philippines after being told the meeting would be delayed by about two hours.
: Philippine’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Cayetano thanks Trump for his offer to mediate the South China Sea dispute but says that all ASEAN countries must agree before any such arrangement could be reached.
: President Trump attends the 50th ASEAN anniversary and the 40th anniversary ofUS-ASEAN relations in the Philippines. He also meets President Duterte.
: Trump makes a state visit to Vietnam and meets President Tran Dai Quang. They discuss measures to strengthen and expand the Comprehensive Partnership between their two countries.
: Trump attends the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam. In a formal speech, he states that multilateral trade agreements disadvantage the US. He also visits Hanoi to meet Vietnam’s leaders
: Secretary of State Tillerson, during a visit to Beijing, reiterates the US position on freedom of navigation in the South China Sea as well as opposition to “militarization of the outposts” in that body of water.
: US Defense Secretary James Mattis visits the Philippines and meets President Duterte in Manila to discuss ways to deepen US-Philippine military ties.
: Philippine government declares the end to the five-month siege of Marawi.
: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visits the US and meets Trump at the White House.
: US and Philippine forces conduct counterterrorism exercises.
: Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha visits Washington and meets President Trump at the White House. They discuss Thai investment in the US and Thailand’s strategic role in Asia. Trump refers to Thailand a “key partner and longstanding ally.”
: US and Philippine militaries conduct joint exercise Kaagapay Ng Mga Mandirigma Ng Dagat (KAMANDAG). The exercise, which roughly translate to English as “Alongside the Warriors of the Sea,” which will take the place of the US-Philippine Amphibious Exercise (PHIBLEX) and will focus on enhancing counterterrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster and relief capabilities, as well as other humanitarian and civic assistance projects.
: Philippine’s President Rodrigo Duterte calls for friendly relations with the US after months of anti-US rhetoric.
: Philippine’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano visits Washington and meets Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
: US and Malaysia conduct a “Maritime Training Activity” (MTA) which appears to be a replacement for the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series, which has been held for past 22 years.
: Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen asks the US to withdraw the Peace Corps from Cambodia one day after he ceased cooperation with US efforts to find and repatriate the remains of US soldiers in Cambodia killed in the Vietnam War.
: US Ambassador to Cambodia William Heidt denies allegations by Prime Minister Hun Sen that Washington is seeking to oust his government.
: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak visits Washington and meets President Donald Trump at the White House. Najib is under investigation by the US Justice Department for his involvement in an investment fund that faces a multibillion dollar corruption allegation.
: US embassy promise $2 million for drug reduction activities in the Philippines.
: Indonesia and the United States conduct the 23rd annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Traning (CARAT) naval exercise, including ground activities in Surabaya and at-sea scenarios in the Java and Bali Seas.
: Cambodia’s opposition party leader Kem Sokha is arrested and accused of plotting a US-backed coup against Prime Minister Hun Sen. The State Department condemns the arrest as politically motivated in anticipation of the 2018 national elections.
: United States pledges $14 million to help rehabilitate the southern Philippine city of Marawi ravaged by military operations against ISIS-affiliated militants.
: Muslim militants stage a coordinated attack on 30 police posts and an army base in Rakhine state. At least 59 militants and 12 members of the security forces are killed. The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a group previously known as Harakah al-Yaqin claim responsibility for the attack.
: Rakhine Advisory Commission, led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, releases a report that says the Muslim community in Myanmar’s Rakhine State has become particularly vulnerable to human rights violations due to protracted statelessness and profound discrimination.
: USPACOM Commander Adm. Harris visits the Philippines and meets President Duterte and other senior leaders.
: Annual US-sponsored Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) naval exercise is conducted at several locations in Southeast Asia with participants from the US, Brunei, Bangladesh Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The goal of the exercise is to increase multilateral cooperation and information sharing among navies and coast guards across South and Southeast Asia.
: Singapore and US navies conduct warfighting exercises off Guam.
: Secretary Tillerson visits Malaysia and meets Prime Minister Najib Razak.
: USS San Diego stops at Cam Ranh Bay after a routine training exercise. A US embassy press release says it is another example of the growing depth of the US-Vietnam comprehensive partnership.
: USPACOM Commander Adm. Harry Harris meets Security Affairs Minister Wiranto in Jakarta to discuss ISIS efforts to establish a new base in Southeast Asia.
: Secretary Tillerson accompanied by two congressmen visits Thailand and meets Prime Minister Prayut.
: Vietnam’s Defense Minister Gen. Ngo Xuan Lich visits Washington and meets Secretary of Defense Mattis to discuss the South China Sea and strengthening Vietnam’s defense capacity.
: On the sidelines of the ARF, Secretary Tillerson meets President Duterte. According to reports, they do not discuss Philippine drug problems or human rights.
: ASEAN Ministerial and post-ministerial meetings with ASEAN partners as well as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) are held in Manila. Secretary Tillerson attends.
: United States transfers two new single-engine surveillance aircraft to the Philippines, boosting its capacity to patrol maritime borders.
: State Department issues a travel warning to US citizens about “non-essential travel” to the southern Philippines because of threats to kidnap foreigners for ransom.
: Indonesia renames the northern reaches of its EEZ in the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea, an assertion of sovereignty in an area that overlaps China’s nine-dash line.
: Thai-US Strategic Dialogue is held in Washington. Both sides pledge support for FON patrols and over-flights as well as a stable South China Sea.
: Sen. Cory Gardner, chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia in the keynote address to the CSIS annual conference on the South China Sea, declares that Washington made a mistake in abandoning TPP and that Congress remains “strongly pro-trade” and should “[enter] those institutions involved….”
: Two US warships sail into Cam Ranh Bay for the annual Navy Engagement Activity, the first time the exercise is held in the port.
: Guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem conducts a FON operation, sailing within 12 nm of Triton Island, part of the Paracel Islands.
: Philippine and US navies conduct a joint patrol of the Sulu Sea.
: Thai Army Chief of Staff Gen. Chalermchai Sitthisart announces that the US will sell four Black Hawk helicopters to Thailand, reversing the suspension of their sale after the 2014 military coup.
: State Department releases its annual Trafficking in Persons Report. It upgrades Burma and Malaysia to tier two, meaning there had been a noticeable improvement in human rights practices. Humanity United criticizes the report, saying there was no justification for the upgrades and that Thailand should have been downgraded.
: US Navy announces that a US warship will visit Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay for maintenance service.
: US Embassy in Manila acknowledges that US forces in Mindanao are involved in providing intelligence and technical support for Philippine forces fighting against radical Islamists occupying parts of Marawi City.
: US delegation led by Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, visits Vietnam to discuss defense cooperation and humanitarian assistance.
: Annual Shangri-La Dialogue convenes in Singapore. Secretary of Defense James Mattis delivers a major address on US security policy and meets defense officials of the 10 ASEAN countries on the sidelines.
: USSDewey, a guided-missile destroyer, makes a freedom of navigation (FON) patrol within 12 nm of Mischief Reef, a South China Sea feature occupied by China.
: Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is the first Southeast Asian leader to visit the US since Donald Trump became president. This follows an April visit by Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.
: TPP countries meet in Vietnam to consider the free trade pact minus the US. The 11 countries agree to provide a way for the US to join the TPP if it comes into existence.
: The ASEAN states and China reach agreement on a framework for a code of conduct on the South China Sea. The framework will form the basis for the next round of more detailed talks.
: Ten Republican and Democratic senators send a letter to President Trump urging him to resume freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea.
: Annual US-Philippine joint military exercise Balikatan is held, though scaled back this year, excluding conflict scenarios and emphasizing humanitarian activities.
: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets 10 ASEAN foreign ministers in Washington.
: Eleven Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) signatories agree to continue discussions to reach a trade and investment accord despite the US departure from the partnership.
: Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi visits Washington to meet senior US officials to discuss Jakarta’s counter-narrative for a peaceful Islam to combat increasing prejudice against Muslims.
: President Trump calls Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to invite them to the White House reportedly to convince them to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
: President Trump places a phone call to Philippine President Duterte, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, inviting all of them to visit the White House.
: The 30th ASEAN Summit and related meetings are held in Manila.
: Vice President Mike Pence visits Indonesia as part of an Asia tour and praises the country’s democratic practices and tolerance of multiple traditions.
: USSCarl Vinson strike group cut short its Singapore stay to conduct exercises with Australia in the India Ocean; it subsequently proceeds to the Korean Peninsula.
: With the help of the FBI, Philippine law enforcement arrest a foreign couple allegedly linked to ISIS and involved in terrorist activities in Kuwait.
: Vietnamese media report that President Trump sent a letter to President Tran Dai Quang promoting more cooperation on trade as well as on other regional and international issues.
: President Trump signs executive order directing Commerce Department to investigate trade imbalances with 16 countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
: President Duterte criticizes the US while meeting Ambassador Sung Kim for Washington’s reticence in confronting China when the PRC began to militarize South China Sea islands some years ago. Still, the two reaffirmed the bilateral relationship under President Trump.
: Philippine government says New York Times article depicting President Duterte’s political career as a cycle of violence is a “hack job” that ignores positive contributions.
: President Duterte blames the US under President Obama for China’s building on features in the South China Sea while Washington did nothing to stop the actions.
: Malaysian Foreign Minister Seni Anifah Aman meets Secretary of State Tillerson in Washington during international meeting on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Malaysia is this year’s coordinator of the ASEAN-US dialogue.
: Thailand, Singapore, and US air forces hold the annual Cope Tiger air exercise, involving 1,000 personnel from Thailand and Singapore and 200 from the US, along with 76 aircraft.
: In a regional press briefing, outgoing Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel assures Southeast Asian reporters that the Trump administration would continue to “engage the region.”
: Philippine Commission on Appointments rejects the appointment of Perfecto Yasay as secretary of foreign affairs based on the fact that he holds dual citizenship in the US. President Duterte appoints Undersecretary Enrique Manalo acting secretary.
: Philippine Defense Secretary Lorenzana, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre accompany US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim on a visit to the USS Carl Vinson in the South China Sea.
: In its annual human rights report, the US State Department criticizes extra-judicial killings in the Philippines as Washington’s chief human rights concern.
: In a report on extrajudicial killings of alleged drug traffickers in the Philippines, Human Rights Watch states the government appears to be responsible and that a case could be made for crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court.
: In a letter to Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quong, President Trump praises growing ties between Washington and Hanoi, emphasizing maritime security.
: US Navy aircraft carrier strike group begins patrols in the South China Sea, led by the USS Carl Vinson.
: Commander of US Pacific Command Adm. Harry Harris opens annual Cobra Gold exercise in Thailand saying that the country should restore democracy as a “strong and stable ally” in Southeast Asia.
: The 36th iteration of the annual Thai-US Cobra Gold exercise is held in Thailand involving 30 countries and 3,000 US forces from all branches of the US armed forces.
: Philippine Defense Secretary Lorenzana says President Duterte will allow the continuation of the EDCA so long as the US does not stockpile ammunition in the country.
: Demonstrations protesting the US travel ban against selected Muslim majority countries occur outside US embassies in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi says she has “deep regrets about the policy.”
: United Nations report condemns Myanmar armed forces for atrocities against Rohingya Muslims, involving gang rape, the slaughter of hundreds of men, women, and children, and the forced removal of over 90,000 from their homes in Rakhine State.
: Rappler reports that President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the US to stop implementation of the US EDCA because Washington is building arms depots in the Philippines. Philippine armed forces spokesperson denies the US was doing so.
: Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announces that the Pentagon will start constructing facilities on the five Philippine bases identified under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
: Responding to a question, President Trump’s press secretary states that the US will prevent China from taking over additional territories in the South China Sea. A Chinese spokesperson responds that such a move would be considered “an act of war.”
: Cambodia cancels all military exercises with the US for the next two years. The announcement comes five days after Secretary of State-designate Tillerson stated at a Senate confirmation hearing that Washington was prepared to prevent China’s access to disputed South China Sea islands.
: Secretary of State John Kerry makes a final visit to Vietnam, celebrating the progress in bilateral relations under the Obama administration. He expresses confidence that the Trump administration would continue the same peaceful principles on Asian security.
: In his confirmation hearing as secretary of State before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rex Tillerson states he would not act on human rights abuses in the Philippines before receiving corroboration.
: Responding to the MCC board decision, President Duterte says the US should “prepare to leave the Philippines, prepare for the eventual repeal or the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement.”
: Philippine government invitation to the UN special rapporteur to visit Manila and conduct its own investigation on the alleged extra judicial killings is put on hold pending the rapporteur’s agreement to accept unspecified “guidelines set by the Philippine government.”
: US announces that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) defers a vote on the reselection of the Philippines for development assistance, subject to a further review of concerns around rule of law and civil liberties.
: Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Xuan Phuc telephones President-elect Trump to congratulate him on his election win. They agree to “work together to continue strengthening the relationship between the two nations.”
: A commission set up by Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi to investigate attacks on border posts and the army’s response in a Muslim-majority area of northwestern Rakhine State states that security forces had abided by the law.
: 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.
: President Duterte and President-elect Trump talk by telephone. Duterte describes the call as “encouraging” and gives assurance that ties are intact, despite recent problems.
: Newly appointed US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim arrives in Manila.
: 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.”
: The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) holds its annual summit in Peru with President Obama in attendance along with a number of Southeast Asian leaders.
: Philippine Army announces that despite President Duterte’s statement that joint Philippine-US military activities will be discontinued, Balance Piston 16-4, involving 16 US soldiers and 56 Philippine counterparts.
: US and Brunei conduct the 22nd iteration of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) naval exercises involving shore-based and at-sea training events.
: Writing in The National Interest, US National Security Advisor Susan Rice urges the next administration to maintain the Obama administration’s rebalance to Asia because of the region’s economic importance.
: US and Indonesia conduct Cope West military exercises off Sulawesi, the first joint exercise in 19 years.
: Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command, visits Hanoi.
: US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel in Manila states that the US stands by its commitments to the Philippines and respects the country’s autonomy and sovereignty while expressing concern about human rights in Manila’s counter-narcotics campaign.
: Dinh The Huynh, executive secretary of the Vietnam Communist Party, visits the US and meets Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington. Discussions focus on the rule of law in the South China Sea and counterterrorism.
: White House says it is “troubled” by President Duterte’s statement made while visiting China that the Philippines will effect a “separation” from the US.
: USS Decatur conducts a freedom of navigation patrol near the Paracel Islands.
: US State Department sends a condolence message to Thailand on the death of the world’s longest serving monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadij. The message notes that the Thai king is the only monarch in history to be born in the US.
: President Duterte, speaking at an anniversary of the Philippine Coast Guard states there will be no more exercises with US forces in 2017 and that the Philippines will chart a new “independent foreign policy.”
: Philippine Foreign Secretary Yasay says his country needs to chart a new, independent foreign policy because “America has failed us.”
: US provides a fifth C-130 military cargo aircraft to the Philippines.
: Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana states “we can live without” US assistance.
: President Obama formally announces the lifting of US sanctions on Myanmar by terminating an emergency order that deemed the policies of the former military government a threat to US national security.
: Philippines suspends its South China Sea exclusive economic zone (EEZ) patrols.
: Indonesian military chief Gatot Nurmantyo announces his country will not carry out any joint exercises in the South China Sea with another country [read: the United States].
: US and Philippine forces engage in the annual Philippine Bilateral Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX). President Duterte states that joint exercises could be terminated.
: President Duterte calls for a review of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States.
: USS Frank Cable and the USS John McCain become the first US warships to visit Cam Ranh Bay since the Vietnam War.
: Meeting in Hawaii, US-ASEAN defense ministers emphasize maritime security and counterterrorism, including intelligence sharing for both.
: In a commentary on US relations with ASEAN states, the rightwing Thai newspaper Naeo No Online criticizes the US for “imperialism” by interfering on human rights issues in the Philippines and Cambodia. The commentary also notes that Washington seems to be accepting the Thai government’s electoral referendum.
: Japanese Defense Minister Inada Tomomi in Washington states that Japan will join the US in South China Sea training exercises.
: Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay speaks at CSIS in Washington, reassuring his listeners that the Philippines remains committed to its alliance with the US.
: President Duterte states the Philippines will no longer conduct joint patrols with the US Navy in the South China Sea. Philippine forces will only deploy within their own territorial waters because Duterte says the country should not “be involved in a hostile act.”
: Aung San Suu Kyi, chief counselor and foreign minister of Myanmar (Burma), visits the US. President Obama announces the lifting of all remaining economic sanctions on the Nay Pyi Taw government in recognition of its progress in democratization.
: President Duterte states US Special Forces in Mindanao must leave the country.
: President Obama becomes the first sitting US president to visit Laos in conjunction with his participation at the East Asia Summit and other ASEAN-related meetings. He pledges several million dollars to help clear unexploded ordnance in Laos and announces the upgrade of relations to a comprehensive partnership.
: President Barack Obama cancels a planned meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte after Duterte makes a vulgar reference to him on learning Obama would raise the issue of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines at the meeting.
: Fifteenth annual Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) military exercise to collaborate and execute responses maritime security challenges such as smuggling and piracy among naval forces from Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and the United States is held with the Singapore Navy’s Multinational Operations and Exercises Center (MOEC) as the main coordinating center.
: US State Department of State releases its annual Report on International Religious Freedom. The report includes specific criticisms of Brunei’s implementation of its Sharia Penal Code Myanmar’s new laws related to the “protection of race and religion,” and Vietnam’s recently released draft law on religion and belief.
: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha confirms that a general election will take place around November 2017.
: US State Department says it summoned Philippine Chargé D’affaires Patrick Chuasoto, to discuss President Duterte’s “inappropriate” remarks about Ambassador Goldberg.
: Thai voters approve a draft constitution put forth by the military government in a referendum, with 61 percent of votes in favor. Critics warn that the constitution would grant inordinate power to the military.
: Philippine President Duterte accuses US Ambassador Philip Goldberg of interfering in Philippines elections earlier this year, using a slur in referring to the ambassador.
: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visits Washington to meet President Obama and members of Congress, stressing trade and security. The visit also celebrates the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
: Secretary of State Kerry visits the Philippines and meets Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay as well as President Rodrigo Duterte. Kerry announces a grant of $32 million for law enforcement training, while also emphasizing the importance of human rights and rule of law in democratic countries.
: Secretary of State Kerry at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting praises ASEAN for speaking up for “a rules-based international order.” He also attends the ASEAN Regional Forum and East Asia Summit.
: US Navy and Marines begin 22nd annual CARAT exercise with Singapore Navy.
: US Justice Department charges relatives and close associates of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak with embezzling more than $3 billion from the country’s sovereign wealth fund. The US is seeking to seize $1 billion in US-based assets.
: US Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski visits Cambodia and warns that Washington could end bilateral military ties if the Cambodian forces commit human rights violations. He also demands that Phnom Penh drop all charges against the opposition party and permit an independent investigation of the murder of government critic, Kem Lay.
: US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee passes a resolution, urging Cambodia to improve democracy, rule of law, and human rights before the 2018 general election and end the persecution of opposition lawmakers.
: United States turns over four patrol boats to the Maritime Group of the Philippine National Police. The boats will be based on Palawan for law enforcement patrols in what Manila calls the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
: US Ambassador to Burma Scot Marciel visits the segregated Muslim community in Rakhine state and says he will raise their concerns with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
: US government’s annual Trafficking in Persons report upgrades the Philippines to the top tier of those with improved records, downgrades Myanmar to the bottom tier, and upgrades Thailand to Tier 2.
: US aircraft carriers John C. Stennis and Ronald Reagan sail together in exercises in the Philippine Sea.
: Four US Navy E/A-18 Growler aircraft and 120 personnel arrive at Clark Air Base to train Philippine pilots for sea patrol.
: The 22nd annual US-Thai CARAT exercise is held with shore and sea-based events, including air defense, helicopter operations, ASW training, surface warfare maneuvering, and joint amphibious landings.
: US and Philippines conduct CARAT military exercise at various locations in and near the Philippines.
: US and Cambodia conduct Pacific Angel military exercise. They are joined by service members from Australia, Vietnam and Thailand in working with local nongovernmental organizations to provide humanitarian assistance.
: Most ASEAN defense leaders attend the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter also attends.
: US and Malaysian naval forces hold annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises in Sabah State and Sulu Sea waters. The maneuvers include amphibious landings and gunnery drills.
: Secretary of State Kerry delivers an address on the establishment of the Fulbright University Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City.
: US and Thailand conduct naval exercise Guardian Sea in the Andaman Sea.
: President Obama visits Vietnam and announces that the US arms embargo is now completely lifted.
: Secretary of State John Kerry meets State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw. The joint press conference discusses the plight of the country’s Rohingya Muslims and Kerry expresses appreciation for Myanmar’s commitment to nuclear nonproliferation.
: Obama administration lifts a broad range of sanctions on Myanmar, particularly on state-owned banks and businesses, in recognition of the country’s move toward democracy.
: Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha excoriates US Ambassador Glyn Davies’ criticism of Thailand’s human rights situation, claiming the critique would “backfire.”
: Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry issues a statement ahead of President Obama’s May 22-25 visit that a US decision to lift the lethal arms embargo against Vietnam would reflect growing “trust” between the two countries.
: Assistant Secretary of State Russel visits Malaysia, the host for this year’s ASEAN-US meetings.
: USS William P. Lawrence, a guided-missile cruiser, conducts a freedom of navigation patrol near Fiery Cross Reef, an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea. The Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam also claim Fiery Cross Reef.
: Assistant Secretary Russel visits Vietnam for discussions on maritime security and human rights progress.
: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel visits Laos for a series of meetings on the Lower Mekong Initiative, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the East Asia Summit.
: Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry asks the US Embassy to stop using the term “Rohingya” in referring to the persecuted Muslim community in Burma. US Ambassador Scot Marciel says it is normal to call a people by the name they wish to be called.
: ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+) naval exercise hosted by Brunei includes three Russian warships for the first time.
: Deputy Secretary of State Blinken travels to Hanoi and Jakarta. In Hanoi, he meets entrepreneurs, members of civil society, students, and government officials. He also gives a speech on US policy toward Vietnam and the Asia-Pacific region. In Jakarta, Blinken meets government officials, civil society leaders, and entrepreneurs.
: Secretary Carter announces five US Air Force aircraft and 200 personnel will remain in the Philippines after the conclusion of Balikatan to support joint patrols in the South China Sea.
: On board the carrier USS John Stennis, Secretary Carter states that FON patrols are designed to “stand up for … a rules-based order that has benefited so many for so long.”
: In the Philippines to observe Balikatan exercises, Secretary Carter announces the two countries are engaging in joint patrols in the South China Sea that began in March.
: Balikatan joint US-Philippine military exercises are held with 4,900 US troops and 3,773 Philippine forces participating. They are joined by a small number of Australian and Japanese personnel.
: US State Department labels Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya minority “persecution” but says it has not reached the level of “genocide.”
: Sixth annual US-Philippines Strategic Dialogue is held in Washington. Defense officials announce that five bases have been selected to implement the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
: US State Department sends congratulations to Htin Kyaw, elected by parliament to be Myanmar’s next president. (It is widely expected the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi will actually rule from behind the scenes.)
March 17-19, 2016: Commander of US Pacific Fleet Adm. Scott Swift and Commander of US Marine Corps Forces in the Pacific Lt. Gen. John Toolan visit counterparts in Hanoi to “explore ways to bring naval forces together.”
: Cambodia and US militaries conduct seventh annual Angkor Sentinel humanitarian and disaster relief exercise focusing on military engineering, explosive-ordnance disposal, and leadership development. More than 150 personnel participate.
: Philippine Defense Secretary Gazmin welcomes deployment of the USS John C. Stennis carrier battle group to the South China Sea as a deterrent to Chinese provocations.
: US State Department criticizes the Malaysian government for freedom of the press restrictions.
: In a speech in San Francisco, Secretary of Defense Carter announces that the US will spend $425 million through 2020 for more exercises and training with Southeast Asian countries that are concerned about China’s actions in the region.
: In testimony before the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, Adm. Harry Harris, commander of US Pacific Command (PACOM), states that the US would conduct more FON voyages and flights in the South China Sea “and will be doing them with greater complexity in the future.”
: US business associations in Myanmar call on the US government to lift the remaining economic sanctions on the country when they expire in May, claiming the sanctions harm their ability to do business in the country.
: President Obama hosts the first US-ASEAN summit in the United States at Sunnylands, California. Economic and maritime security issues dominate the agenda.
: US Senate confirms Scot Marciel as the new ambassador to Myanmar (Burma).
: US and Thailand host the annual Cobra Gold military exercise, focusing on multilateral anti-piracy cooperation as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The scope of the exercise is scaled down as it was last year because of US disapproval of the Thai military’s continued rule of the country.
: US Ambassador to the Philippines Phillip Goldberg states the US is open to conducting joint patrols with the Philippine Navy in disputed waters in the South China Sea.
: Guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur passes within 12nm of Tritan Island during a freedom of navigation (FON) exercise in waters near the Paracel Islands.
: Secretary Kerry visits Cambodia and discusses the UN-based trials of Khmer Rouge leaders, the country’s political future, human rights, and the US-ASEAN summit.
: Secretary of State Kerry visits Laos to discuss the agenda for the mid-February ASEAN-US leaders meeting held in Sunnylands, California. He emphasizes the US Lower Mekong Initiative as beneficial for all riparian states and highlights the role of Laos as ASEAN chair for the year.
: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel visits Singapore to lead the US delegation at the fourth US-Singapore Strategic Partnership. He delivers a major Asia policy address to the Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy.
: Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Myanmar, meeting key government officials and leaders of the opposition. He expresses US support for the country’s democratic transition and concern over discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities.
Jan. 12, 2016. Philippine Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the Philippine-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), saying the pact provides leverage to counter Chinese pressure on Philippine territorial claims in the South China Sea.
: Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter meet Philippine counterparts Alberto del Rosario and Voltaire Gazmin in Washington. Kerry welcomes the decision that the EDCA is constitutional. Del Rosario and Gazmin also meet Senate Armed Services Chairman and Ranking Member Senators John McCain and Jack Reed, thanking the committee for calling for a stronger US presence in the Asia-Pacific.
: About 50 Philippine protesters visit Thitu Island (Philippines: Pagasa; China: Zhongye Dao) to show their support for Manila’s claims in the South China Sea.
: Assistant Secretary of State Russel travels to Thailand and Laos. In Thailand, Russel leads the US delegation to the fifth US-Thai Strategic Dialogue on Dec. 16, marking the first time the dialogue has been held since 2012.
: Singapore Minister for Defense Ng Eng Hen visits Washington and meets Secretary of Defense Carter. They sign a joint enhanced defense cooperation agreement (DCA) that will provide a framework for an expanded defense relationship.
: US lawmakers sign a letter of support for Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsey, calling on Prime Minister Hun Sen to stop oppressing him. A Cambodian government spokesman dismisses the letter saying US legislators do not understand events in Cambodia.
: A Philippine court convicts a US marine of homicide for the 2014 killing of a transgender woman. He is sentenced to six to twelve years in a Philippine prison.
: The Philippines concludes its argument before the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on Manila’s South China Sea EEZ claims.
: Hundreds in Bangkok protest Ambassador Davies’ remarks expressing US concern about Thailand’s stringent lese majeste laws.
: US Ambassador to the Philippines Phillip Goldberg announces that US military aid to the Philippines increased this year to $79 million. (Since 2002, the US has provided $500 million in military assistance to the Philippines.)
: Assistant Secretary of State Russel meets Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein to assure them of US support for Myanmar’s democratic transition.
: The 27th ASEAN Summit and the 10th East Asia Summit are held in Kuala Lumpur. The US and ASEAN conclude a Strategic Partnership.
: Presidents Barack Obama and Benigno Aquino meet on the sidelines of the APEC Forum in Manila to discuss the South China Sea conflicts and the pending US-Philippine Enhanced Defense Partnership. New US military aid is also announced.
: United States lifts its ban on the sale of lethal capabilities to Vietnam in order to encourage “interoperability with other regional forces.”
: US and Cambodian navies conduct the sixth annual CARAT exercise at Cambodia’s Ream Navy Base, with 500 sailors participate in both land and sea-based activities.
: Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and the US Navy conduct a joint exercise in the South China Sea – the first bilateral exercise of these two in the region.
: US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein visit the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt off the coast of Malaysian Borneo.
: The ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus cancels its usual joint statement after China insists that any statement omit reference to the South China Sea conflicts.
: Ambassador to Thailand Davies meets Prime Minister Prayut Chan-Ocha. The ambassador welcomes Thailand to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
: Permanent Court of Arbitration awards its first decision in The Republic of Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China case, ruling that the case was “properly constituted” under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, that China’s “non-appearance” (i.e., refusal to participate) did not preclude the Court’s jurisdiction, and that the Philippines was within its rights in filing the case.
: US guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen reportedly sails within 12nm of Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in the South China Sea.
: Indonesian President Joko Widodo visits the US and meets President Barack Obama and other senior officials.
: Deputy US National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes visits Southeast Asia with a stop in Vientiane on Oct. 16 to celebrate the anniversary of Laos-US diplomatic relations and a stop in Myanmar from Oct. 18-20 ahead of that country’s Nov. 8 election.
Oct. 15, 2015. State Department issues a statement congratulating Myanmar for reaching a ceasefire agreement with eight ethnic insurgent groups.
: Trilateral India, US, and Japan Malabar naval exercises are held in the Indian Ocean. Over 1,000 personnel are involved, and four US Seventh Fleet ships participate, including the Nimitz-class carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt.
: US and Philippine navies and marines conduct the annual Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) in various locations around the Philippines.
: US and Malaysia agree to set up a Regional Digital Counter-Messaging Center in Kuala Lumpur to counter Islamic State propaganda.
: US and six ASEAN states (Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Thailand) conduct Southeast Asia Coordination and Training (SEACAT) exercise.
: Sixth US-Vietnam Defense Policy Dialogue is held in Washington, led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Amy Seawright and Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh.
: Secretary of State Kerry meets ASEAN foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly annual meeting.
: Newly appointed US Ambassador Glyn Davies arrives in Bangkok. The post has been vacant for almost a year.
: In a commentary in TODAY Online, a widely read Singapore newspaper, the US is urged to conduct patrols to affirm freedom of navigation near islands that China has created in the South China Sea.
: Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi meets Secretary of State Kerry in Washington to discuss President Joko Widodo’s upcoming visit to the US.
: US State Department issues a statement of “concern” over the disqualification of approximately 100 candidates for Myanmar’s upcoming election, noting that almost all Muslim candidates were disqualified.
: US Embassy joins other Western embassies in Myanmar to urge political parties not to use religion “as a tool of division and conflict” in their election campaigns.
: Vietnam’s National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung visits Washington and tells Secretary of State John Kerry that Vietnam hopes to strengthen relations with the US.
: Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu says that the country will upgrade military facilities on the Natuna Islands.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Pacific and Asian Affairs Daniel Russel visits Myanmar to meet Cabinet officials, members of the Union Election Commission, ethnic leaders, and Aung San Suu Kyi.
: Visiting the Philippines, Pacific Command Commander Adm. Harry Harris says the US plans to boost the number and size of bilateral exercises. Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin requests that US ships escort Philippine ships during resupply missions to the country’s Spratly Island outposts.
: US and Malaysia conduct CARAT Malaysia 2015, a joint military exercise.
: In Vietnam to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations, Secretary Kerry states that deeper ties depend on Hanoi’ s greater commitment to human rights and democratic values.
: ASEAN Regional Forum is held in Kuala Lumpur. Secretary Kerry attends and announces a $4.3 million contribution to the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center for the creation of a system to document and trace illegal fishing in the region.
Aug. 4, 2015 Secretary of State Kerry speaks at the Singapore Management University acknowledging obstacles that led to the stalemate in the TPP negotiations in Maui but expressing the hope that they will be overcome in future meetings.
: US and Indonesia conduct CARAT Indonesia 2015 exercise with over 1,000 US personnel.
: ASEAN-related foreign minister and post-ministerial meetings (48th ASEAN, 16th ASEAN+3, and fifth East Asia Summit) are held in Kuala Lumpur.
: US and Vietnam conduct a joint peacekeeping workshop in Hanoi to help Vietnam establish a national peacekeeping center. Peacekeeping cooperation was agreed upon during the July visit General Secretary Ngyuen Phu Trong to Washington.
: Annual State Department Human Trafficking Report places Thailand in the bottom tier because of child slavery in the fishing industry; Malaysia is promoted to the next highest category although human rights critics say there is no justification for its elevation.
: In a Washington speech, Japan’s top military commander Adm. Kawano Katsubashi states his country may conduct surveillance patrols in the South China Sea.
: Singapore and US navies conduct bilateral CARAT exercise involving 1,400 personnel and several combat vessels.
: Vietnam’s Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong visits the US and meets President Obama. Their main topic of discussion is the Trans Pacific Partnership.
: ASEAN Secretariat announces during a meeting in Kuala Lumpur that the group will create a fund to aid regional countries that host the victims of human trafficking. US State Department and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees also participate in the meeting.
: State Department’s annual human rights report criticizes Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar.
: Philippine and Japanese navy ships exercise together in the South China Sea, focusing on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
: US and Philippines conduct their 21st annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines military exercise.
: Assistant Secretary of State Russel visits Singapore and Malaysia in preparation for the upcoming ASEAN Regional Forum.
: In Jakarta, Anne Richards, assistant secretary of state for refugees, speaks on US contributions to relieve the plight of Rohingya boat people from Myanmar. She also praises the rescue efforts from Indonesia and Malaysia.
: Defense Secretary Carter meets Vietnamese Navy and Coast Guard officials in Hanoi and pledges $18 million for Vietnam’s purchase of US patrol craft to safeguard territorial waters. On June 2, the two countries sign a defense agreement.
: Vietnam and the US sign a joint vision statement during Secretary Carter’s visit to Hanoi.
: At the annual Singapore Shangri-La dialogue, Defense Secretary Carter criticizes China’s land reclamation in the Spratly Islands, particularly “the prospect of further militarization.” He also announces the Southeast Asian Maritime Security Initiative to provide equipment and training to South China Sea littoral states.
: US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter meets Philippine Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin in Hawaii, discussing security issues in the South China Sea and agreeing to hold a 2-plus-2 assistant secretary-level meeting as soon as possible.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights Tom Malonowski says the US still has active sanctions against Myanmar for persecution of Muslim Rohingya.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel, referring to a US P-8A Poseidon flight near Spratly islets that China, says that all countries have freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.
: Deputy Secretary of State Blinken in Myanmar discusses the Rohingya boat exodus with President Thein Sein. US Embassy in Yangon issues a statement urging Myanmar to work with regional partners to deal with the crisis.
: US Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft flies over the region of the Spratly Islands. Chinese Navy repeatedly warns the aircraft to depart the airspace.
: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets visiting Secretary of State John Kerry and says China has no intention of scaling back island expansion activities in the Spratly Islands.
: Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Vietnam in advance of a visit to Washington by General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong.
: Senior officials from all 10 ASEAN states meet senior US officials at the White House to discuss maritime security and China’s reclamation activities in the Spratly Islands.
: President Barack Obama notifies Congress he is renewing his authority to maintain sanctions against Myanmar for another year because of human rights abuses and ill treatment of the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.
: Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Del Rosario in Washington asks the US for more help in resisting China’s land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea.
: Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs David Shear in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says US bomber and surveillance aircraft would be deployed to Australia.
: Greeting Singapore’s foreign minister in Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry cites both countries’ national concern over China’s actions around the Paracel Islands.
: US rejects a tentative offer by a senior Chinese Navy officer to allow US forces to use South China Sea land features occupied by China for rescue and relief operations.
: Annual US-Philippine Balikatan Exercise is held adjacent to the South China Sea. One of the largest in the series, it deploys 6,500 Americans and 5,000 Filipinos.
: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scot Marciel visits the Philippines, discussing South China Sea tensions and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
: US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus meets top Vietnamese Army officials. Deputy Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Do Ba Ty lauds growing defense ties between the two countries, particularly in maritime safety and security.
: In a speech at Arizona State University, Defense Secretary Ash Carter asks the Philippines for eight locations as possible sites for US troops to rotate for joint exercises under the Comprehensive Enhanced Defense Agreement.
: Vietnamese and US navies engage in their annual exercise off Danang, central Vietnam. Maritime security and search and rescue activities are emphasized.
: Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger attend the funeral of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew, who died at age 91.
March 21, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama, visiting Cambodia, urges high school girls to finish their education. Prime Minister Hen Sen objects to the cost of such a request, insisting that the US should foot the bill for such continued education.
: Commander of the US Seventh Fleet at a military exposition in Malaysia calls on Southeast Asian navies to form a combined naval patrol force for the South China Sea.
: US State Department states it is deeply concerned about the arrest of Anwar Ibrahim’s daughter, Naral Azzah Anwar for sedition. She made remarks in Parliament protesting the conviction of her father.
: US voices concerns to Vietnam about Hanoi’s permission for Russia to use Cam Ranh Bay to refuel nuclear-capable bomber flights.
: Responding to a petition asking the US to make the release of Anwar Ibrahim a top priority for US-Malaysian relations, the White House expresses disappointment in Anwar’s jailing but states the US is committed to developing a comprehensive partnership with Malaysia.
: Gen. Vincent Books, commander, US Army Pacific, states that Russia conducted provocative flights adjacent to Guam. The Russian planes were refueled by tanker aircraft flying from Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam.
: US, Thailand, and Singapore hold the annual Cope Thunder joint air exercise in Thailand with 400 American personnel, 1,000 from Singapore and Thailand, and 84 aircraft.
: US Pacific Command Commander-designate Adm. Harry Harris states that the India-US partnership is a “key component” of the US rebalance to Asia and that the US supports India’s increased presence in the South China Sea.
: US Joint Special Operations Command in Mindanao ends its 13-year operations, though some US Special Forces remain to provide advice at a higher echelon of command.
: Philippine government announces the US Navy paid $52 million in reparations for the damage a minesweeper caused to a protected reef two years ago. Additionally, the US government will assist in the upgrade of a Philippine Coast Guard station on the reef.
: US flies its most advanced surveillance plane, the P-8A Poseidon, over the South China Sea with Philippine soldiers on board for familiarization.
: In Washington, Singapore and the US agree to increase anti-terror cooperation at the third US-Singapore Strategic Partner Dialogue.
: Cobra Gold 2015 is held in Thailand. The US sends a contingent of 3,000, smaller than last year because of political tensions over the May 2014 Thai military coup.
: US and Laos co-host a meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative, including the five lower Mekong countries and major donors from both the public and private sectors.
: Reuters reports that US Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Robert Thomas stated the US would welcome the extension of Japanese air patrols into the South China Sea.
: Secretary Russel delivers an address on the Obama administration’s rebalance policy to the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace. He criticizes Phnom Penh’s failure to push through reforms necessary to promote foreign investment.
: Secretary Russel in Bangkok at Chulalongkorn University calls on the military government to end martial law, restore civil rights, and hasten Thailand’s return to democracy.
: US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius states that defense cooperation between the two countries will focus on coast guards.
: In a press briefing in Kuala Lumpur, Assistant Secretary Russel emphasizes Malaysia’s important role as this year’s ASEAN chair in addressing South China Sea issues.
: US and Philippines hold their fifth annual bilateral strategic dialogue in Manila, focusing on the South China Sea disputes.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel visits Manila, Kula Lumpur, Bangkok, and Phnom Penh.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski leads a delegation to Nay Pyi Taw for a dialogue on democratic reform, media freedom, and labor rights; he requests access to conflict areas for humanitarian assistance.
: US Embassy in Manila announces the sale of two C-130s to the Philippine Air Force to enhance its maritime domain awareness, especially for humanitarian purposes and disaster relief.
: US Embassy in Laos donates $6.5 million for people with disabilities through the US Agency for International Development.
: Indonesian and US defense officials sign an agreement for Washington to assist the Indonesian Ministry of Defense in developing strategies to enhance the latter’s performance through institutional reforms.
: US Embassy in Jakarta issues a security alert urging visitors to be vigilant. Without specifying the cause, Indonesian and US authorities have expressed concern about radicalized Indonesians returning from Iraq and Syria.
: US Navy vessel using acoustic technology recovers several bodies from the ill-fated Air Asia Flight 8501 that crashed into the Java Sea on Dec. 28.
: While on an unannounced visit to Hawaii, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has a golf outing with President Obama.
: Philippine government prosecutors charge US Marine Pfc. Joseph Pemberton with murder in the killing of a Filipino, saying the suspect acknowledged attacking the victim after he found out she was a transgender woman.
: US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee passes a resolution calling for a peaceful settlement of maritime conflicts in the South and East China Seas and condemns any coercive actions in those regions. The resolution also urges ASEAN and all other claimants to move toward a formal code of conduct for these waters.
: Two Vietnamese frigates make the first-ever port call by Vietnam’s Navy in the Philippines as part of goodwill visit.
: President Obama visits Myanmar for an official visit and an East Asia Summit meeting. On the sideline of the EAS meeting, he also meets Vietnam’s prime minister and Indonesia’s president.
: In separate phone calls to Myanmar President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Sui Kyi, President Obama stresses the need to address communal tensions, forge a nationwide ceasefire pact, and hold credible general elections next year.
: US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus applauds President Jokowi’s commitment to strengthen maritime security and offers US cooperation.
: In Jakarta to attend the inauguration of Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, Secretary of State John Kerry discusses cooperation in stopping the flow of militants to Syria.
: Elements of the US, Singapore, and Japanese navies take part in a joint exercise in the South China Sea, emphasizing gunnery skills and formation cruising.
: US Marine Pfc. Joseph Pemberton is accused of killing a transgendered Filipino on Oct. 11 in an Olongopo City hotel room.
: US Pacific Command Commander Adm. Samuel Locklear visits the Philippines and meets counterpart Adm. Gregorio Catapay. They sign accords for 426 joint activities.
: Myanmar announces that it will release over 3,000 prisoners, including former military intelligence officers.
: Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh visits the US. The Obama administration partially lifts the lethal weapons ban on Vietnam.
: Annual Philippine-US Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) is held on Palawan and the Zambales region with 700 Philippine and 2,000 US participants.
: US-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting is held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
: 24, 2014: US Treasury Department imposes terrorism sanctions on four individuals affiliated with Indonesia’s Jemmah Islamiya as part of a global financial crackdown on individuals supporting terrorism.
: Philippine President Benigno Aquino visits the US to promote business relations. He also delivers a policy speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School and attends the UN Climate Change Summit in New York.
: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Rakak visits the US for the UN General Assembly. On Sept. 25, he delivers the keynote address to the Malaysia-US Business Forum to promote investment in his country.
: Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh heads a delegation to Washington to discuss key issues in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations as well as trade and investment opportunities.
: Myanmar President’s Office urges the US Congress not to pass a bill that would restrict funding to the country’s military because of human rights concerns.
: Amnesty International issues a report on the situation in Thailand, condemning the detention by the military of civilians and the limits placed on freedom of expression.
: US Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert speaking in Washington states that Malaysia has invited the US to fly P-8 Poseidon surveillance flights from east Malaysia over the South China Sea. The supposed offer is subsequently denied by Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
: Philippine National Bureau of Investigation arrests three members of an anti-China group called USAFFE, which takes its name from the former US Armed Forces in the Far East during World War II, who plotted to bomb Manila’s international airport using an improvised explosive device.
: Malaysian and US forces inaugurate their first joint military exercises in Sabah at the location where southern Philippine gunmen invaded last year.
: Thailand’s coup leader Prayuth Chan-Ocha is formally endorsed as prime minister by King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
: Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey visits Hanoi and discusses lifting the US arms embargo as well as Vietnam’s military needs.
: US Senators John McCain and Sheldon Whitehouse visit Indonesia and explain the US military action in Iraq. McCain warns that both Indonesia and the US could face the return of radicalized youth from fighting with ISIS.
: Singapore hosts annual Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) naval exercises with personnel from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the US participating.
: The 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting/Post Ministerial Conference, the 21st ASEAN Regional Forum, the 15th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers Meeting, and the fourth East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting are held in Nay Pyi Taw. Secretary Kerry expresses concern that the government was stumbling on the path to democracy.
: US Sen. Bob Corker of the Foreign Relations Committee meets Vietnam’s Deputy Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Truong Quong Keah in Hanoi where they discuss the possibility of the US lifting its ban on weapons exports to Vietnam.
: Pitch Black air combat exercise with fighter aircraft from the US, Singapore, France, Thailand, the UAE, New Zealand, and Australia is held near Darwin, Australia.
: US and Singapore conduct their annual CARAT exercise, involving 1,400 personnel, nine ships, two submarines, and five naval helicopters.
: USS Columbus submarine calls at Subic Bay, one of the areas being considered as a site for US facilities formalized in the April EDCA.
: Washington congratulates Joko Widodo on his victory in the Indonesian presidential election.
: State Department criticizes a Burmese court’s sentence of four journalists and their newspaper’s executive to 10 years of hard labor for reporting that a Defense Ministry factory was producing chemical weapons.
: Former US President Bill Clinton visits Vietnam and meets President Truong Tan Sang and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Among other issues, Sang calls for an early signing of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.
: China removes its offshore oil rig from contested waters near the Paracel Islands, a month before schedule.
: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Michael Fuchs stresses ASEAN’s key role for US foreign policy in Asia.
June 26-July 1, 2014. Annual US-Philippine CARAT naval exercise is held in the South China Sea adjacent to the island of Luzon. A total of 1,000 personnel from both countries participate.
: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long visits the US and meets President Obama, Vice President Biden, and National Security Advisor Susan Rice. Lee calls for US support to finalize the TPP.
: State Department publishes the 2014 Trafficking in Persons report, adding Thailand and Malaysia to the list of countries that have failed to tackle human trafficking. Both countries protest this characterization.
: State Department urges reforms in Burma to ensure free elections.
: Australian Prime Minister Abbott meets with President Obama in Washington, emphasizing ASEAN’s importance for maritime issues in the South China Sea.
: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel attends the preliminary meetings in Yangon for the ASEAN-related meetings. He calls on both Vietnam and China to withdraw their ships from disputed waters near the Paracel Islands and also asks Beijing to withdraw its oil exploration rig.
: The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Senior Officials meeting in Yangon discusses the South China Sea conflicts. Most delegates express concerns and urge the disputants to observe provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
: In a joint exercise with Malaysia, the US deploys an F-22 for the first time against a Malaysian Su-30.
: US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker leads a delegation of US business executives and members of the US-ASEAN Business Council to Vietnam, the Philippines, and Myanmar for meetings with heads of state, cabinet officials, and business leaders.
: State Department warns US citizens to “reconsider any nonessential travel to Thailand.” It also suspends $2.5 million in military financing and training and says an additional $10.5 million in assistance to the country is under review. It calls for “the immediate restoration of civilian rule.”
: Pentagon halts an underway CARAT joint military exercise with Thai forces.
: White House announces it will support Vietnam if it chooses to take legal action in resolving its dispute with China in the South China Sea.
: Secretary Kerry refers to the Thai coup as a “disappointment,” without justification and demands the release of detained political leaders. He warns that the coup could negatively affect US-Thai military relations.
: Thai military declares a coup and suspends the constitution. Army Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha is identified as the junta leader.
: Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh telephones Secretary Kerry to discuss implications of China’s deployment of an oil rig near the Paracel Islands.
: State Department issues a statement reacting to the Thai martial law declaration, urging the military to “honor its commitment to make this a temporary action to prevent violence and not to undermine democratic institutions.”
: Thai military declares martial law.
: Secretary Kerry in a phone call to Vietnam’s deputy prime minister terms China’s actions in the South China Sea “provocative” and urges safe conduct for all vessels in the vicinity.
: State Department spokesperson cautions that any Chinese military construction on a disputed Spratly reef has the potential to raise tensions and calls on all parties to abide by the 2002 Declaration of Conduct on the South China Sea that prohibits such activity.
: US extends sanctions against Burma for one more year, banning US companies from doing business with those involved in repressing pro-democracy movements.
: Philippines offers the US access to a small naval base on Palawan facing the South China Sea. Manila hopes the US will rehabilitate the base.
: US National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes affirms US opposition to Chinese military actions in response to an oil rig standoff between Vietnam and China in the South China Sea. He also says the US is strengthening military ties with such allies as the Philippines.
: A bipartisan group of US senators from the Foreign Relations Committee urge passage of a resolution reaffirming support for freedom of navigation and the diplomatic resolution of outstanding maritime disputes. The statement condemns Chinese boats’ ramming Vietnamese ships as interrupting the free flow of maritime commerce.
: US State Department spokesperson says that China’s movement of an oil rig into disputed waters near Vietnam “undermines peace and stability in the region.”
: Thailand’s Constitutional Court dismisses Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office for abuse of power, along with nine Cabinet officials.
: US and the Philippines conduct Balikatan military exercise featuring live-fire drills, landing exercises, search-and-rescue operations, humanitarian response operations, and demonstrations of maritime surveillance systems. A small contingent from Australia participates.
: US Congressional leaders assure visiting Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay of continued aid for recovery from Typhoon Yolanda as well as congressional support for the new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
: Malaysian elites, including former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and past editor of the New Straits Times Abdul Kadir condemn President Obama’s comments to the Young Leaders Group of the University of Malaya in which he warned Malaysia would fall behind if it did not provide the same opportunities for non-Muslims as it does for Muslims.
: The Philippines and the US sign a 10-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) that allows US military forces to access military bases in the country.
: President Obama visits the Philippines.
: A day before President Obama is scheduled to arrive in Manila, the United States and the Philippines sign the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
: President Obama visits Malaysia. He meets Prime Minister Najib Razak and civil society groups. In keeping with the administration’s Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative announced in December, Obama also meets with youth groups.
: Thai political crisis does not prevent Bangkok from co-hosting (with China) an ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea, in Thailand.
: Assistant Secretary Russel visits Myanmar and meets President Thein Sein. They discuss Nay Pyi Taw’s ASEAN chairmanship and the situation in Rakhine State.
: United States and Vietnam hold joint non-combat naval exercises, focusing on search-and-rescue and military medicine. Two US ships and 400 US personnel are involved.
: Assistant Secretary Danny Russel visits Bangkok and delivers a letter from Secretary Kerry warning against a military coup as a response to the political crisis.
: State Department issues a statement of concern on the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and attacks on United Nations and non-governmental groups that provide services to internally displaced persons in Rakhine.
: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hosts a meeting with the ASEAN Defense Ministers in Honolulu, the first US-ADMM held in the United States.
: The Philippines files a 4,000-page document with a United Nations Law of the Sea tribunal in The Hague in support of its case against China on the “nine-dash line” and related issues. US State Department issues a statement reaffirming its support for “the exercise of peaceful means to resolve maritime disputes.”
: Manila signs the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), an achievement not only of the two sides but also of Malaysia, which had helped to mediate negotiations for over a decade.
: Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives passes House Resolution 418, which “Calls on: (1) Burma to end the persecution and discrimination of the Rohingya people and ensure respect for internationally recognized human rights for all ethnic and religious minority groups, and (2) the United States and the international community to put consistent pressure on Burma to end such persecution and discrimination.”
: Malaysian government announces that Flight MH370 is believed to have crashed in a remote area of the Indian Ocean west of Perth, Australia.
: Vietnamese Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung visits Washington to meet with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. They discuss TPP and bilateral trade issues.
: Chinese ships patrol near Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea and expel Philippine vessels that the Chinese claim are carrying materials to build permanent structures on the Shoal.
: Malaysia Airlines announces that its Flight MH370, a scheduled international passenger flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, lost contact with air traffic control less than an hour after take-off. Six hours later the airline declares the plane missing and a search that will involve 26 countries begins.
: Malaysian Court of Appeals overturns an earlier acquittal of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges, but defers his five-year prison sentence to allow for appeal. Anwar’s defenders charge that the move is political, to prevent Anwar from contesting the by-election in Selangor on March 23.
: A 2013 Department of Defense report to Congress on Myanmar’s relationship with North Korea is made public. It states that Myanmar continues to distance itself from Pyongyang but still receives some conventional arms and may also be receiving equipment for ballistic missiles.
: Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) releases its 2014 trade agenda, which lists the TPP as a top priority.
: Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman leads delegation to Vietnam, Myanmar, and Malaysia.
: State Department releases the 2013 Human Rights Reports. Myanmar’s human rights situation are described as improving, while Vietnam is called out for its detention of such bloggers as Le Quoc Quan.
: A Ministerial Meeting of the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP) is held in Singapore. It fails to make significant progress, and no specific date is set for the next round of negotiations.
: Officials from the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam meet in Manila to coordinate policy regarding Chinese activities in the South China Sea. Fellow claimant Brunei fails to send representatives to the meeting, despite originally agreeing to attend.
: Secretary Kerry visits Jakarta and co-hosts the fourth Joint Commission Meeting of the US-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership with Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.
: State Department signs an agreement with the Lao Ministry of Education to fund educational programs on unexploded ordnance (UXO).
: Despite the political crisis in Thailand, Bangkok and Washington co-host the 33rd annual Cobra Gold exercises, along with co-partners Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and several observers.
: Tag-teaming with Medeiros’ Jan. 30 statement, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Danny Russel says that China’s use of a “nine-dash line” to claim territories in the South China Sea is not based on land features and is therefore inconsistent with international law.
: General elections are held in Thailand. The opposition Democratic Party boycotts the polls and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee obstructs some voting. This eventually causes the Constitutional Court to nullify the elections.
: Myanmar’s Constitutional Review Joint Committee, a Parliamentary group charged with recommending revisions to the 2008 constitution, issues its report. The 109-member body supports greater decentralization, but is silent on more high-profile political issues. This includes provisions in the constitution that prohibit individuals from becoming president if their spouses or children hold foreign citizenship and reserve 25 percent of parliamentary seats for the military.
: Evan Medeiros, National Security Council senior director for Asia, cautions China against setting up an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea, similar to the one Beijing established in 2013 in the East China Sea. Medeiros warns that doing so could result in a shift in US military posture in the region.
: State Department issues a statement of concern on increased violence in Bangkok in the ongoing political crisis, which has resulted in several casualties and injuries.
: Myanmar hosts its first ASEAN meeting, a foreign ministers retreat in Bagan.
: Manila announces its intention to acquire two more ships from the United States, a follow-on from Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the Philippines in December.
: Malaysian Defense Minister Min Hishamuddin Hussein visits Hawaii and Washington, his first official visit to the United States. His visit sparks the announcement of increased joint exercises and training between the US and Malaysian militaries.
: Myanmar assumes chairmanship of ASEAN for the first time, having been passed over for that role in 2004.
: Secretary Kerry visits Vietnam and the Philippines.
: US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Tom Kelly visits Malaysia to discuss defense cooperation.
: Second former US Hamilton-class Coast Guard cutter is commissioned as BRP Ramon Alcaraz by the Philippine Navy.
: Philip Goldberg is sworn in as the new US ambassador to the Philippines. He arrives in Manila on Nov. 26.
: Amphibious ships USS Ashland and the USS Germantown, equipped with helicopters, small boats, trucks, equipment to produce potable water and other supplies, take over US disaster relief operations in response to Typhoon Haiyan.
: US Navy Captain David Haas is suspended from duty for his role in the US Navy bribery scandal involving Glenn Defense Marine Asia, the sixth Navy officer to be implicated.
: Former US President Bill Clinton visits Myanmar and meets President Thein Sein, Parliamentary Speaker Shwe Mann, and Aung San Suu Kyi.
: USS George Washington accompanied by seven supply ships arrives in the Philippines to provide emergency response relief in aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
: A 90-person US Marine task force from Okinawa arrives in the Philippines to provide disaster relief assistance in response to Typhoon Haiyan.
: Typhoon Haiyan moves through the Philippines, Vietnam, and Southern China.
: US and Philippines negotiations over increased US rotational presence halt after disagreement about level of access Philippines troops will have to US facilities.
: US Navy CMDR Jose Sanchez is arrested for disclosing sensitive US Navy information to the CEO of Glen Defense Marine Asia and for accepting bribes for inflated and fraudulent services. US Vice Adm. Ted Branch and Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless are also implicated in scandal.
: Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks link Australian embassies to US electronic espionage in a number of Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and East Timor.
: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar ask the US and Australia to clarify media reports about embassy espionage allegations.
: Assistant Secretary of State Russel at the 180th anniversary celebration of US-Thai relations held at the National Archives in Washington, notes that the two countries engage in over 40 joint military exercises annually and that hundreds of US companies in Thailand employ about 250,000 Thai workers.
: At the APEC meeting in Bali, Secretary Kerry and his Vietnamese counterpart sign a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, permitting US companies to export nuclear equipment to Vietnam. The agreement requires approval by the US Congress.
: Secretary Kerry travels to Bali for APEC Economic Leaders Meeting, Brunei for the ASEAN-US Summit and East Asia Summit, and Malaysia for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. A stop in the Philippines is canceled due to an approaching typhoon.
: President Barack Obama cancels the Malaysia and Philippine portions of his Asia trip because of the US government shutdown. Secretary of State Kerry will visit the countries instead. (Subsequently, Obama cancels his whole Asia trip.)
: US Navy Capt. Daniel Dusek of the Japan-based ship Bonhomme Richard is suspended due to implication in the Glen Defense Marine bribery scandal.
: US and Philippines conduct fourth round of talks on increased rotational presence of the US military in the Philippines.
: Secretary of State John Kerry attends the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in New York, affirming that “ASEAN has been at the center of the Asia Pacific’s regional architecture” and the “center” of the US rebalance strategy to Asia.
: US Ambassador to Cambodia William Todd attends the opening session of Parliament boycotted by the opposition following a bitterly contested election. He states that his attendance is “not an endorsement of any election outcome or any political party.”
: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak visits the US to address the UN General Assembly and attend meetings in San Francisco and New York. He also delivers an address to The Asia Society.
: US welcomes Burma’s signing of a UN International Atomic Energy Agency Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement Additional Protocol that requires Nay Pyi Daw to declare any nuclear activities and to allow inspections.
: Philippines and US conduct joint military exercise PHIBLEX 2014, which focuses on natural disaster response as well as maritime security and territorial defense.
: Leonard Glenn Francis, a Malaysian national residing in Singapore and CEO of Glen Defense Marine, is arrested on two counts of bribery. US Navy CMDR Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz and NCIS Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II are also charged with giving Francis confidential scheduling information in return for luxury travel and prostitutes.
: China and ASEAN meet in Suzhou for the Sixth Senior Officials Meeting on Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. Discussion includes the possible establishment of a formal code of conduct.
: US participates in an Indonesian-hosted counterterrorism exercise that is sponsored by the ADMM+.
: In his first trip to Asia as US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, Danny Russel visits Brunei and Indonesia.
: Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Philippines, and US conduct an annual Southeast Asia Cooperation against Terrorism (SEACAT) military exercise.
: ADMM+ meets in Brunei with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in attendance. Hagel invites all 10 ASEAN defense ministers to meet in Hawaii next year.
: Secretary Hagel visits Manila to discuss increasing US troop presence with Philippine counterpart Voltaire Guzman.
: Secretary of State Hagel travels to Asia with stops in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Philippines. While in Brunei he participates in the second ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+), the security ministerial input for the East Asia Summit.
: US Trade Representative Michael Froman attends the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting, which has become the unofficial economic track of the East Asia Summit.
: Cambodia cancels or postpones military cooperation programs with the US and other countries that have challenged Phnom Penh’s recent disputed election.
: A second Hamilton-class former US Coast Guard cutter joins the Philippine Navy. Provided gratis, Manila spent $15 million to add updated weapons and communications.
: Secretary of State Kerry sends a congratulatory message to ASEAN on its 46th anniversary, noting that the “the United States stands with you as a steadfast partner.”
: US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, visiting Malaysia, states that President Obama sees the country as a “strong partner” and an important partner in strengthening US relations with ASEAN.
: Philippine Foreign Minister Albert Del Rosario announces that the US will raise its military assistance next year by two-thirds from $30 million to $50 million.
: Vice President Biden visits Singapore, emphasizing the positive effect of the US presence in Southeast Asia’s prosperity and stability.
: Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang visits Washington at the invitation of President Obama to discuss bilateral and regional issues.
: Vice President Joe Biden at George Washington University delivers a speech prior to his trip to India and Singapore, emphasizing that the Asia-Pacific rebalance includes both sides of the ocean – Asia and Latin America.
: US and Singapore hold their annual CARAT exercises, focusing on maritime warfare capabilities and involving 1,400 personnel. It is the first Singapore CARAT involving the littoral combat ship USS Freedom.
: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, after US State Department pressure, pardons exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsey, allowing him to return to Cambodia in time for the July 28 general election, although he is subsequently barred from seeking election.
: US Treasury Department sanctions a Myanmarese general in charge of military procurement for continuing to purchase military equipment from North Korea – a practice prohibited by US law and UN Security Council resolutions.
: Secretary of State Kerry attends his first ASEAN-US Foreign Ministers Meeting followed by the annual meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Brunei.
: The US and Philippine navies hold their annual CARAT exercises which includes an exercise off the coast of Zambales province near the China-occupied Scarborough Shoal. The exercise emphasizes interoperability and involves desk top as well as sea maneuvers.
: Defense Secretary Voltaire Guzman states that Manila can allow the United States, Japan, and other allies to use Philippine bases to help the Philippines roll back China’s extensive claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
: Myanmar bans the July 1 issue of Time magazine because its cover article attributes anti-Muslim violence to Buddhist terrorism. The cover features the photo of a controversial monk accused of encouraging the violence.
: US State Department’s annual trafficking in persons report contains a blistering indictment of Thailand for the fourth consecutive year for corrupt officials engaging in sex trafficking as well as protecting sweatshops.
: Gen. Do Ba Ty, chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army, visits the Pentagon and meets Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, the first such high-level visit nearly 40 years after the Vietnam War.
: US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in Manila discusses security issues with Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Guzman and Philippine Armed Forces Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista.
: US State Department annual report on persecution of minorities criticizes the Indonesian government for failing to prevent attacks and apprehend those responsible for the destruction of one of the country’s two remaining synagogues.
: ASEAN Defense Ministers Plus group, including the US, carries out a humanitarian assistance exercise involving over 2,000 personnel from 18 countries in Brunei.
: Littoral combat ship USS Freedom takes part in a CARAT exercise with Malaysia.
: US Pacific Fleet command ship, USS Blue Ridge visits Malaysia’s Port Klang for four days, its first port call in Malaysia since 2008.
: Malaysia’s naval chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar states that the US Navy’s presence in Asia has a “positive impact” and helps maintain peace and stability.
: US and Cambodia conduct an air transport exercise with a number of other countries participating. The biannual exercise includes air drops of humanitarian aid. US Ambassador William Todd affirms the exercise is part of the US rebalance.
: At the 12th annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reassures Asia that the US would maintain its “decisive military edge” in the region. He also invites ASEAN defense ministers as a group to meet in Hawaii in 2014.
: US and Indonesia conduct annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises, involving four Indonesian and three US ships and 4,000-5,000 personnel.
: Myanmar’s President Thein Sein meets President Obama who, while praising the country’s political reforms, states that it must release more political prisoners and take steps to end ethnic violence against Muslims.
: State Department’s annual report on religious freedom voices alarm at the lack of “any improvement in religious freedom” in Myanmar.
: Soldiers from Idaho National Guard engage in a joint peacekeeping exercise with elements of the Cambodian Army. This is the fourth joint effort begun originally in 2000.
: Joint statement is released by the 26th ASEAN-US Dialogue in Washington. Discussions include political-security, economic, and socio-cultural issues and attendees include senior officials of all member states and the ASEAN Secretariat.
: Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaipul visits Washington with talks emphasizing security ties.
: US lifts a sweeping ban on visas for Myanmar officials, further easing sanctions despite the increase in ethnic violence. Nevertheless, Washington extends Myanmar’s “national emergency status” because of continued human rights problems.
: US Defense Department report to Congress notes that Myanmar has still not stopped the import of weapons from North Korea.
: State Department welcomes Burma’s release of 56 political prisoners as a gesture to the European Union’s lifting of economic sanctions. However, the State Department also urges the government to release all remaining political prisoners estimated at 175.
: ASEAN leaders meet in Brunei for their annual summit. The South China Sea conflicts and agreeing on an ASEAN Code of Conduct are high on the agenda.
: The King and Queen of Thailand send a condolence message to President Obama over the Boston Marathon bombing.
: The USS Freedom, a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), arrives in Singapore for a 10-month deployment.
: Philippine President Benigno Aquino expresses deep sympathy to the people of Boston in the aftermath of the bombing at the Boston Marathon.
: Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s second largest Muslim organization, condemns the Boston Marathon bombers as “inhumane” and “humankind’s common enemy.”
: Foreign Secretary del Rosario says that US forces could be stationed at Philippine military bases under the terms of mutual support in the defense treaty if the US went to war with North Korea.
: US Coast Guard Rear Adm. William Lee pledges US support for Vietnam’s fishing protection force at a meeting in Maryland.
: Philippine government announces that the US Navy has turned over a variety of documents relating to the grounding of the USS Guardian on Tubbataha Reef so the Philippine Maritime Casualty Investigating Team can carry out its own assessment.
: The annual Balikatan US-Philippine military exercise is held, this year emphasizing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visits Washington for meetings at the White House, State Department, Pentagon, and the US Trade Representative.
: Secretary Kerry meets Foreign Secretary del Rosario in Washington and seems to endorse an arbitration solution to the South China Sea conflicts.
: Secretary Kerry urges the Laotian government to make public the results of an investigation into the disappearance and possible abduction of Samboth Somphone.
: US registers its concern about Vietnam’s allegation and China’s denial that a Chinese boat fired at a Vietnamese fishing boat, setting its cabin ablaze near the Paracel Islands.
: In the Philippines, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter assures Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario that the US will continue efforts to strengthen the Philippine Armed Forces.
: Deputy Secretary Carter meets Indonesia’s minister of defense and members of the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives in Jakarta.
: Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shammugan visits Washington for talks with Secretary of State John Kerry.
: The Sultan of Brunei visits the US and meets President Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Brunei chairs ASEAN this year and hosts the US-ASEAN Summit.
: Malaysian military engages in an assault on a group of armed Philippine nationals known as the Royal Sulu Army that is occupying parts of Sabah state.
: US Treasury Department eases sanctions on four Burmese banks, allowing them to do business with US companies, even though some bank officials are on a list of former junta military personnel who have been ostracized by the US.
: Assistant Secretary of State Jose Fernandez, specializing in economic matters, visits the Philippines, Burma, Thailand, and Singapore to discuss commercial, trade policies, and regional economic integration.
: US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner visits Phnom Penh and presses Cambodia to release Mam Sonondo, owner of Beehive Radio, who was sentenced to 29 years in prison for covering Cambodia’s military crackdown on demonstrators protesting land evictions. He also urges the government to permit the return of self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy to run in the forthcoming July election.
: Burma and the US resume counter-narcotics cooperation. An agreement signed in Naypyidaw restarts joint opium poppy yield surveys and counter-narcotics training.
: Secretary of State John Kerry telephones Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to reaffirm US support for Philippine territorial defense.
: Some 180 Filipinos, calling themselves the “Royal Army of Sulu,” land at the village of Tanduo in Lahad Datu town in Sabah and claim the region as part of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo.
: US Ambassador to ASEAN David Carden and Adm. Locklear meet the new ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh to discuss regional security concerns, including US support for “rules-based Asia-Pacific regional architecture.”
: The 32nd annual Corbra Gold exercise is held in Thailand involving 13,000 military personnel from a several Asian states plus observers from a dozen others.
: US Pacific Command (USPACOM) Commander Adm. Samuel Locklear addresses the US-Indonesia Society in Jakarta on the US “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific and the various components of the US-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership.
: US State Department welcomes the Burmese government’s announcement of the formation of a Committee on Political Prisoners, including both officials and society members to review the potential release of all remaining political prisoners.
: US and Timor-Leste navies begin their first CARAT exercise. US Coast Guard personnel are also participating. The exercise includes at sea and classroom components.
: Twenty of the world’s largest creditors, including the US, agree to cut nearly 50 percent of Burma’s foreign debt and provide a seven year grace period for the remainder.
: US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee delegation led by its chair Ed Royce visits the Philippines for discussions. They express regret for the grounding of the USS Guardian and voice support for Manila’s decision to bring South China Sea claims to arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
: World Bank announces a long-awaited deal that allows Burma to clear part of its decades-old foreign debt. This opens the door for new lending to the country.
: US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas apologizes for the grounding of the USS Guardian on Tubbataha Reef and attributes the accident to faulty digital navigation charts, though an investigation into the cause continues.
: US Embassy in Rangoon issues a statement claiming the Burmese Army offensive in Kachin state is causing civilian casualties and undermining efforts at national reconciliation.
: Philippines announces it submitted its dispute with China over territorial claims in the South China to a UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitration tribunal.
: The minesweeper, USS Guardian, runs aground causing extensive damage to Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO world heritage site and Philippine national park located in the Sulu Sea near the island of Palawan.
: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls on the Lao government to investigate the disappearance of US-educated activist Sombath Somphone.
: In response to a Vietnamese court conviction with long prison sentences for 14 bloggers and other political and social activists, the US embassy states it was “deeply troubled” with the convictions, which are seen as “part of a disturbing human rights trend in Vietnam.”
: The Islamist group Hizbut Tahir Indonesia (HIT) meets the Jakarta Provincial Government to protest the expansion and renovation of the US Embassy, saying it will strengthen the US ability to interfere in Indonesia’s political affairs.
: Derek Mitchell, US ambassador to Burma, says he raised the Burmese military attacks on the Kachins with authorities in Naypyidaw but in a newspaper statement did not appear to condemn them.
: US Ambassador to Malaysia Paul Jones meets Deputy Prime Minister Muhyidden Yasin to discuss strengthening the American English Teaching Assistance program.
: US condemns Burma’s use of air strikes against Kachin rebels in northern Burma.
: A senior Pentagon official states the US is poised to take “nascent steps” to train Myanmar officers in non-lethal skills such as humanitarian assistance and military medicine.
: US Ambassador to Malaysia Paul Jones presents a memento to the Malaysian Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in recognition of the humanitarian assistance provided by Malaysian personnel in Afghanistan.
: Third US-Philippine Bilateral Strategic Dialogue is held in Manila. Agreement is reached to boost US ship, aircraft, and troop rotations through the Philippines.
: State Department officials meet monks in Mandalay to discuss the government’s crackdown during the previous week on protests at the Latpadaung copper mine. They also talk about sectarian tensions in Arakan state against the Muslim Rohingyas.
: At the US-ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, the “US-ASEAN Expanded Economic Engagement Initiative” (E3) is launched to expand trade and investment ties.
: President Obama visits Myanmar, highlighting Washington’s support for the country’s democratic transition. The trip is the first-ever to the country by a sitting US president.
: The ASEAN heads of government initial the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration – years in negotiation – stipulating the individual to be the focus of human rights, though providing each state with implementation authority based on its national situation.
: Myanmar naval officers visit the amphibious assault ship USS Bonnehomme Richard in the Andaman Sea – the first such military contacts in decades.
: The 21st ASEAN Summit, ASEAN dialogue partner meetings, the 15th ASEAN Plus 3 Summit, and the 7th East Asia Summit are held in Phnom Penh.
: President Obama visits Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.
: President Obama visits Thailand, the first stop on his three country Southeast Asian trip.
: Reaffirming military ties with Cambodia, Defense Secretary Panetta also deplores the Hun Sen government’s continued human rights abuses.
: Secretary Panetta attends the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting in Siem Reap.
: US lifts restrictions on most imports from Myanmar prior to President Obama’s visit to the country.
: Secretary Panetta and Thai counterpart sign a new joint defense declaration for the 21st century, the first such document since 1962.
: Secretary of State Clinton visits Singapore.
: Thailand and the US release a Joint Vision Statement for the Thai-US Defense Alliance that outlines the goals for what is described as a 21st century security partnership.
: Secretary of State Clinton and Defense Secretary Panetta begin an Australia-Southeast Asia visit in Perth to strengthen security relations in the region.
: US State Department issues a statement urging Laos to delay construction of a huge dam on the Lower Mekong River until environmental impacts can be assessed and the other riparian states consulted.
: US Marines and elements of the Brunei Land Forces conduct a CARAT exercise, focusing on urban training against hostile forces in buildings.
: A bipartisan Congressional group sends a letter to President Obama urging him to condemn human rights violations under Hun Sen in his forthcoming trip to Cambodia.
: US State Department condemns a Vietnamese court decision sentencing two musicians to prison for writing and distributing protest songs, one of which criticized the government for not taking a harder line against China in their South China Sea disputes.
: US State Department, responding to the killing of Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, urges “both sides [Muslims and Buddhists] to exercise restraint and immediately halt all attacks.”
: Indonesian police arrest 11 terrorist suspects who were planning to attack the US Embassy in Jakarta among other Western targets. The suspects had collected explosives and a bomb-making manual.
: Cambodian and US naval forces conduct their second Carat exercise – the first occurring in 2010. Training covers maritime interdiction, salvage operations, and disaster response. Civic action projects on land are also scheduled.
: Off the coast of Vietnam, the aircraft carrier USS George Washington welcomes Vietnamese officials to witness live firing exercises.
: Senior defense officials from Thailand and the US meet in Washington for US-Thailand Defense Strategic Talks.
: Reuters reports that the US, Thailand, and other participants in the annual Cobra Gold military exercises will invite Myanmar as an observer at the 2013 annual joint maneuvers.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Michael Posner meets Myanmar ministers for a human rights dialogue. Aung San Suu Kyi also attends.
: Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk, 89, dies in China. His body is repatriated to Cambodia on Oct. 17.
: Cambodian authorities threaten US government’s Voice of America and Radio Free Asia with unspecified legal action for being anti-Cambodia and favoring opposition parties. A VOA spokesman says the stations value free speech and objectivity in their broadcasts.
: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi declares willingness to serve as president if the country’s constitution is amended to permit her to become a candidate. President Thein Sein says he could accept her in that office if the people of Myanmar supported her.
: The annual joint Philippine-US Amphibious Landing Exercise (Phiblex) is held in various locations in the Philippines. Both sides state the scenarios are not directed at a China contingency, though US Marine Corps Gen. Craig Timerberlake states the training is designed “to respond to issues, [including] national security.”
: The aircraft carrier USS George Washington exercises with the Malaysian Navy and Air Force.
: The initial company-size rotation (200-250) of US Marines completes their deployment in Darwin, Australia. Company-size rotations are scheduled to continue through 2013. It will be several years before larger contingents up to 2,500 will be deployed.
: The Philippines hosts the Third ASEAN Ministers Forum in conjunction with the first expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum, an affiliate of the East Asia Summit. All 18 EAS members are represented. Maritime security is a primary focus.
: Meeting President Thein Sein in New York, Secretary Clinton announces that the US will begin lifting the decade-long ban on imports from Myanmar.
: Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attends a dinner hosted by President Obama on the 180th anniversary of US-Thai relations. She states that Thailand is ready to cooperate with the US as a strategic partner.
: Myanmar President Thein Sein arrives in New York for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly.
: The State Department says the US is “deeply troubled” by convictions of three Vietnamese bloggers who were sentenced to jail for criticizing their government – a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
: US Pacific Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Scott Swift visits Brunei to promote defense relations. Discussions include US Navy participation in the inaugural Military Medicine and Disaster Relief Exercise next year under the auspices of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus.
: US Congress passes legislation supporting lending from international financial institutions to Myanmar, reversing a ban based on concerns that loans would benefit the previous military junta.
: The US lifts a 26-year ban on the visit of New Zealand warships to US Coast Guard and Navy bases around the world as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visits Wellington.
: The US removes sanctions against Myanmar President Thein Sein, permitting US citizens to do business with him.
: Third annual US-Indonesia Joint Commission Meeting chaired by Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is held in Washington. The US agrees to sell eight Apache gunship helicopters to Indonesia.
: Aung San Suu Kyi receives the Congressional Gold Medal and has a private meeting with President Obama.
: Three hundred protesters against the US-made video insulting Islam leads to the temporary closure of the US Consulate in Medan, Indonesia’s third largest city.
: Hundreds of Muslim protesters burn US flags in the southern Philippine city of Marawai, triggered by a video made in the US that mocks Islam.
: Police fire tear gas and water cannons at hundreds of protesters around the US Embassy in Jakarta protesting the US-made video insulting Islam.
: Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi leaves for a 17-day trip to the US.
: Thailand sends a condolence letter to the US on the killing of the US ambassador to Libya in Benghazi.
: Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono condemns the killing of US diplomats in Benghazi, Libya.
: Singapore government condemns the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi leading to the death of US Ambassador Chris Stevens and other US diplomats.
: Secretary Clinton becomes the first US secretary of state to visit Timor Leste (East Timor) since its independence from Indonesia 10 years ago.
: Secretary Clinton visits Brunei.
: Jakarta Globe Online reports that Secretary Clinton expressed support for Indonesian mediation in Southeast Asia toward creation of a South China Sea code of conduct.
: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Indonesia and says that China should start discussions with ASEAN to develop a code of conduct on the South China Sea and that the ASEAN states should present a united front in those talks.
: Secretary Clinton in a joint press conference with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa supports Papua’s continued inclusion in the Unitary Republic of Indonesia but condemns ongoing violence there.
: A US Navy P-3C surveillance aircraft joins the Philippine Coast Watch 2012 exercise that incorporates the Philippine Coast Guard and maritime police.
: The 20th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leader’s Meeting is held in Vladivostok.
: Washington Post reports that US Ambassador to Myanmar Derek Mitchell has asked the Burmese government to make public prison and court records so people can get some idea of how many political prisoners remain incarcerated.
: Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro announces that the US has offered 10 F-16 combat aircraft to Indonesia. If accepted, they would form a second squadron of F-16s in the Indonesian Air Force.
: Bangkok Post reports that Thai Defense Minister Sukumpon Suwanat was asked by the Burmese military to seek US permission to observe the Cobra Gold exercise.
: Visiting US Congressman David Dreir urges Malaysia to join the US-led Tans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), emphasizing the importance of Malaysia-US trade and investment.
: US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney states that the provision of a visa to former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin had no bearing on Thai domestic politics but was done according to US laws and was not a political issue.
: Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yosin states that China has replaced the US as the number one destination for exports, thus reducing Malaysia’s dependence on a weakened US economy.
: US inaugurates its first Agent Orange cleanup in Vietnam at a former US air base in Danang. The cleanup is funded by USAID with a budget of $43 million and has a scheduled completion date of 2016.
: State Department issues a statement criticizing Bangladesh for closing non-governmental relief organization efforts to support Rohingya refugees from Myanmar who are seeking safety in Bangladesh.
: US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus visits Singapore, praising strong naval ties between the two countries.
: Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visits the US. However, his visa precludes a stop in Washington, DC. Thaksin meets supporters in New York and Los Angeles, though some opponents also protest his visit.
: State Department posts a press release supporting ASEAN’s July 20 Six Point Statement on the South China Sea and urging ASEAN and China to proceed toward a Code of Conduct and seek cooperative arrangements to manage South China Sea resources.
: US Congress extends a ban on imports from Myanmar, seeking to maintain pressure despite recent Myanmar reforms that have prompted the easing of other sanctions.
: State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism finds “no direct evidence” that militants in southern Thailand have links to international terrorists. The report urges Thailand to improve its suppression of money laundering which funds terrorist operations.
: Singapore, Thai, and Indonesian air forces participate with their Australian and US counterparts in the biannual air combat exercise, Pitch Black, held in Darwin, Australia. The exercise involves 2,500 personnel.
: Six senators introduce a resolution in the US Senate urging China and the members of ASEAN to make progress toward developing a legally binding Code of Conduct for the South China Sea.
: The 18th Singapore and US CARAT Exercise is held in the South China Sea. Singapore and US navies and air forces plus US Coast Guard and Marines participate.
: US Pacific Commander Adm. Samuel Locklear visits Manila and meets President Aquino and senior foreign and defense officials. He pledges US assistance to build a Philippine “minimum credible defense posture.”
: US Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats accompanies a US-ASEAN Business Council delegation to Myanmar.
: Vietnam Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh visits the US to discuss legacies of the Vietnam War, particularly unexploded munitions and Agent Orange victims.
: The ASEAN Foreign Ministers fail to reach an agreement on a South China Sea Code of Conduct and for the first time in their 45-year history fail to issue a final communiqué at their annual meeting.
: At the ASEAN Regional Forum annual meeting in Phnom Penh, Secretary Clinton expresses support for a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea currently being negotiated by ASEAN.
: The fifth Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial Meeting takes place in Phnom Penh. Secretary Clinton announces $10 million in funding for LMI as part of a new Asia Pacific Security Engagement Initiative.
: In a visit to Laos, Secretary Clinton promises aid to help neutralize millions of unexploded bombs dating back to the Vietnam War era.
: The US announces the lifting of sanctions on Myanmar ending the prohibition of investments by US companies in Myanmar’s oil and gas.
: In Hanoi, Secretary of State Clinton reiterates support for a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea disputes.
: The US Navy and Coast Guard join the Philippine Navy in the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises – for the first time off the coast of Mindanao.
: US exempts Singapore from a law about to take effect imposing financial sanctions on countries still buying Iranian oil.
: US Senate confirms Derek Mitchell as the first US ambassador to Myanmar in more than two decades.
: The biannual RIMPAC exercises are held in and around the Hawaiian islands with 22 countries participating. The five original ASEAN members participate (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia); the most recent members (Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, Vietnam, Myanmar) do not.
: The US and New Zealand sign an agreement to expand defense cooperation though it does not alter Wellington’s 1985 ban on port visits by nuclear-armed US warships.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro visits Vietnam, Brunei, and Thailand. He attends the fifth US-Vietnam Political, Security and Economic Dialogue in Hanoi.
: The US and Thailand hold a Strategic Dialogue in Washington.
: Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong visits Washington. Secretary Clinton raises human rights concerns.
: The US expresses concern over the sectarian violence in western Myanmar’s Rakhine states and urges restraint and an end to the attacks on the Rohingya people.
: Philippine President Benigno Aquino makes his third visit to the US, stopping in Washington, DC and Los Angeles. He meets President Obama on June 8.
: Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey visits the Philippines and meets counterpart Gen. Jesssie Dellosa to discuss regional security and the Mutual Defense Treaty.
: Secretary of Defense Panetta visits Vietnam, including Cam Ranh Bay where he addresses the crew of the USNS Richard Byrd in port for repairs.
: At the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Washington would consider a defense relationship with Burma if it continues on the path to democratic reform. He also reviews US defense policy toward Asia.
: US Ambassador to Malaysia Paul Jones states that the US Government will send 300 English language teachers to Malaysia under a bilateral education cooperation agreement.
: The US Navy supply ship USNS Richard Byrd docks at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, for a two-week refitting visit.
: US and ASEAN officials meet in Manila to discuss security cooperation, trade, and investment.
: The Obama administration lifts most of the economic sanctions on Myanmar, opening the way for US investors for the first time in decades. Yangon’s foreign minister is present in Washington for the announcement.
: President Obama nominates his special envoy to Myanmar, Derek Mitchell, to be the US ambassador.
: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak visits the US to promote business ties between the two countries.
: Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario claims the Mutual Defense Treaty with the US covers territories west of the country where Scarborough Reef is located.
: Philippine government releases a statement that the US will double foreign military financing to Manila in 2012 from $11.9 million to $20 million and provide real-time surveillance information on intrusions in Philippine territorial waters.
: A 2+2 Meeting between the US and Philippine foreign and defense secretaries is held in Washington.
: First US-Philippine Ministerial Dialogue is held in Washington. The “2 Plus 2” meeting brings together secretaries of state and defense from both countries.
: USTR releases its annual Special 301 Report. Malaysia is removed from the Watch List for legislation that strengthens copyright protection and stepping up Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement. The Philippines and Vietnam remain on the Watch List, while Indonesia and Thailand are on the Priority Watch List of countries that present the “most significant concern” on IPR protection.
: Vice Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the US Seventh Fleet, visits Cambodia to discuss Cambodia’s participation in the 2012 Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises and other forms of cooperation.
: US provides $1 million in training and equipment to the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation to strengthen port security.
: US Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk visits Malaysia and Singapore to discuss bilateral trade issues and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in which Singapore is a founding member and the US and Malaysia are negotiating entry.
: Walgreens donates $9 million worth of flu vaccine to Laos, in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
: Peace talks between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government resume in Kuala Lumpur, with several observers from the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
: The US and Vietnam conduct five days of naval exchanges to focus on “non-combatant events and skills … in areas such as navigation and maintenance.”
: Operation Pacific Angel moves to Phonsavahn province in Laos.
: Demonstrators attack the US Embassy in Manila with paint to protest the US-Philippine exercises close to disputed areas in the South China Sea.
: The US and the Philippines conduct the 28th annual Balikatan (“Shoulder-to-Shoulder”) exercises involving 4,500 US troops and 2,300 Philippine personnel. Exercises take place in and around Palawan and Luzon and naval include patrols in the South China Sea.
: The US provides support for a new disaster monitoring and response system at the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Center in Jakarta.
: A string of bombings attributed to the Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines kill seven and wound several others. Targets include an army patrol, a civilian bus, and a cockfight.
: A stand-off near the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea begins between Chinese and Philippine surveillance ships over Chinese fishing activity near the shoal.
: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Singaporean Defense Minister meet in Washington; US requests deployment of up to four littoral combat ships to Singapore by 2016.
: Secretary of State Clinton announces that the US will begin to ease sanctions on the export of US financial services to Burma, lift the travel ban on some Burmese officials, remove restrictions on US NGO’s working in the country, and reopen a US Agency for International Development mission.
: The 20th ASEAN Summit is held in Phnom Penh.
: US Pacific Command sends a representative to the first ASEAN Regional Environment Security Forum in Jakarta. This coincides with the second Regional Environmental Security Conference, co-sponsored by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and USPACOM.
: Burma holds parliamentary elections; National Democratic League wins 43 of the 45 seats being contested.
: US Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams visits Vietnam to explore the possibility of an invitation from the government to inaugurate a Peace Corps program in Vietnam.
: WE and Cambodia conduct the third year of Angkor Sentinel, joint military exercises that focus on peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance operations.
: US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously passes the Vietnam Human Rights Act, which would prohibit increases in non-humanitarian aid to Vietnam absent improvements in human rights.
: Congress approves legislation enabling the US Commerce Department to continue to levy tariffs on imports from Vietnam, China, and other non-market economies that subsidize exports.
: The first exercise in 2012 of the 13th Air Force’s annual Operation Pacific Angel opens in Bicol province in the Philippines. A humanitarian mission now in its fifth year, Operation Angel provides medical, dental and engineering assistance.
: The Indonesian National Police declares that it will not ban the JAT despite the US designation.
: US State Department designates the Indonesian Islamic group Jemmah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT) a foreign terrorist organization, a precondition for imposing financial and legal sanctions against the group.
: Three Iranians are arrested in Bangkok after they accidentally blew up their house when a bomb-making attempt backfired. A fourth Iranian escaped to Malaysia but was extradited back to Thailand.
: US Congress approves the transfer of a second Coast Guard cutter to the Philippines Navy. A retired US cutter was transferred in 2011, but most of the ship’s radar and sensor equipment was removed. Manila requests that the equipment on the second cutter remain.
: Singapore agrees to extradite four of its citizens to the US on charges of conspiring to evade the US trade embargo against Iran by smuggling electronic components which were subsequently used for explosives in Iraq.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro travels to the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia to discuss security cooperation.
: US suspends restrictions on assessment missions and limited technical assistance by international financial institutions in Burma by issuing a partial waiver of sanctions imposed under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The waiver is only valid until September.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell visits Hanoi and Phnom Penh.
: The first-ever US-Singapore Strategic Partners Dialogue opens in Washington.
: The US, Laos, and ASEAN launch a roadmap to establish a Lao National Single Window for faster customs clearance, linking it to the ASEAN Single Window.
: Second US-Philippine Strategic Dialogue is held in Washington. Issues include increasing joint exercises and rotating US troops through Philippine bases. Protestors picket the US Embassy in Manila, while Chinese media call for sanctions on the Philippines.
: The US drops its opposition to Vietnam’s right to produce nuclear fuel as a precondition for a bilateral agreement on nuclear cooperation under negotiation.
: Returning from a visit to Vietnam, US Sen. John McCain and Joseph Lieberman announced that the US will not lift its ban on lethal weapons sales to Vietnam until the country makes more progress on human rights.
: Sen. Mitchell McConnell, a co-sponsor of the 2008 Burma JADE Act, visits Burma and meets Aung Sang Suu Kyi.
: A Hezbollah-linked suspect is arrested in Bangkok after the discovery of a munitions cache and a planned bombing. Eleven countries issue travel advisories, which the Thai government fears will damage, tourism.
: The Obama administration announces it will restore diplomatic relations by sending an ambassador to Burma, which will also enable the Burmese government to post an ambassador to Washington. Later, Derek Mitchell, currently US special representative for Burma, is nominated to be the first US ambassador to Burma in 20 years.
: The 31st annual Cobra Gold exercises take place in Thailand with more than 13,000 troops participating and seven partners: the US, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and South Korea. Humanitarian and civic assistance programs are conducted in seven Thai provinces.
: The US sanctions Singaporean Kuo Oil Private Limited for selling refined petroleum products to Iran.
: US Ambassador at Large for Human Trafficking Luis CdeBaca visits Burma, which has been designated as a Tier 3 country, the most serious violators of anti-trafficking laws, for several years.
: Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma Derek Mitchell visits Burma and Thailand to follow up on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s December visit to Burma. In northern Thailand, he meets local officials and assistance groups working with refugees in the border region.
: US Ambassador to Indonesia Scot Marciel announces that the US will refurbish 25 F-16 fighter aircraft at cost for the Indonesian air force. Dec. 13, 2011: The Philippines commissions the 3,390-ton frigate BRP Gregorio del Pilar, an old US Coast Guard cutter, as its largest and most modern warship.
: Secretary Clinton, at President Obama’s behest, visits Burma to assess that country’s progress toward democracy and human rights. Dec. 8, 2011: A Thai-American, Joe Gordon, receives a 30-month jail sentence in Bangkok for lese-majeste (insulting the king) in a book he wrote in the US. The US Embassy has denounced the ruling as excessive and a free speech violation.
: Speaking with President Yudhoyono at the Bali ASEAN Summit, President Obama announces the transfer of 24 excess US F-16s to the Indonesian Air Force and an expansion of the Peace Corps program in the country.
: President Obama attends the ASEAN-US and East Asia Summits in Bali.
: Secretary Clinton visits Bangkok enroute to Bali and the East Asia Summit and offers flood assistance to Thailand.
: Secretary Clinton visits the Philippines to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the mutual defense treaty between the two countries. She calls for its update.
: Leaders from 18 nations gather in Bali for the sixth annual East Asia Summit that includes the US and Russia for the first time.
: President Yudhoyono attends the 19th APEC Leaders Meeting in Honolulu and urges greater US economic cooperation with ASEAN.
: President Yudhoyono rejects Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s allegations of human rights violations in Papua growing out of a workers’ strike at the Freeport McMoren copper mine in that province.
: Special Envoy to Burma Mitchell visits Burma accompanied by Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner.
: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell visits Jakarta and Manila.
: US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta meets Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Bali. Speaking to reporters, Panetta affirms US Asian alliance commitments and adds the intention to “build new partnerships … to improve the security in that region.”
: US Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma Derek Mitchell visits Burma and meets democracy movement leader Aung San Suu Kyi, senior officials including Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, and representatives of civil society. Oct. 24, 2011: Paul Jones, US ambassador to Malaysia, becomes the first US ambassador to be given the honorary title of datuk by the Sultan of Penang state. The honorific is a signal of strengthening US-Malaysia relations.
: The US and Cambodian navies begin their second annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise from the port of Sihanoukville. The exercise includes a civic action component, involving a public health clinic and building water wells.
: Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman travels to Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand to help establish an agenda for the upcoming November East Asia Summit in Bali. Oct. 17-28, 2011: US Marines and Philippine troops engage in the 28th annual Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) joint exercise in several locations, including Palawan (for the first time) adjacent to the Spratly Islands also claimed by China.
: Burma’s Parliament passes legislation permitting labor union organization for the first time since the repressive 1962 Trade Unions Act.
: Assistant Secretary of State for Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell says that in light of “dramatic developments under way” in Burma leading to political liberalization that the US is considering some strengthening of relations and that the US will provide an all-around engagement in Asia as part of its global responsibilities.
: David Shear is sworn in as US ambassador to Vietnam.
: ASEAN legal experts meet in Manila to discuss a Philippine proposal for developing a “South China Sea Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation Zone.”
: US Ambassador to Malaysia Paul Jones applauds Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s stated intention to abolish the country’s Internal Security Act, saying this would promote greater freedom for Malaysia. The ambassador also supports the idea of a new anti-terrorism law and invited the government to seek advice from the US.
: Vietnam and the US hold their second defense dialogue in Washington and sign an agreement which includes the establishment of a regular defense dialogue mechanism and cooperation in maritime security, search and rescue, studying and exchanging experience in UN peace keeping activities, and humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
: Philippine President Benigno Aquino visits the US and receives an honorary degree from Fordham University before going to the annual meeting of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and to Washington, DC.
: Burma unblocks restrictions on foreign news sites including Reuters, Democratic Voice of Burma, Voice of America, and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
: Burma is the only Southeast Asia country included on the State Department’s annual black list of states violating religious freedom.
: US Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Richard Carlen visits Washington to help prepare for President Barack Obama’s inaugural visit to the November East Asian Summit and third US-ASEAN Leaders Meeting in Bali.
: US Special Envoy to Burma Derek Mitchell visits Burma for the first time and meets officials, political opposition, and civil society members. He meets opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her home in Rangoon.
: US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee delegation visits Manila to determine how Washington can help the Philippines meet its defense needs.
: The aircraft carrier USS John Stennis visits Port Klang, Malaysia, as part of a seven-month mission to the western Pacific and South China Sea.
: Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario says Kristie Kenney was “a dismal failure in helping the Filipinos defend our democracy” following the release of her leaked comments criticizing the country’s democracy icon Corazon Aquino.
: Two Vietnamese democracy activists are among more than 10,000 prisoners granted amnesty by Hanoi to mark the country’s National Day.
: Presidential election is held in Singapore; former Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan wins.
: Thai-Cambodian Regional Border Committee meeting is held in Thailand’s northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima province to discuss several issues including troop withdrawal.
: In a letter to Secretary Clinton, 16 US senators urge Vietnam to free dissident priest Nguyen Van Ly, saying his arrest could jeopardize Washington’s growing ties with Hanoi.
: Naval forces of the US and Singapore conduct their 17thCARAT exercise.
: The aircraft carrier USS George Washington calls in Vietnam, receiving Vietnamese officials and US embassy personnel.
: Umar Patek, one of Southeast Asia’ most wanted terrorists, is extradited from Pakistan to Indonesia.
: The USS George Washington calls in Loem Chabang, Thailand. Sailors on board engage in civic action as well as tourism.
: Derek Mitchell, recently deputy assistant secretary of defense, is appointed to be special envoy to Burma to help develop a cohesive international policy toward the country.
: The US and Vietnam open their first formal military relationship with a collaborative agreement in military medicine.
: ASEAN naval chiefs meet formally for the first time in Hanoi.
: Secretary Clinton in Hong Kong calls on Asian states to move from “a hodgepodge of inconsistent and partial bilateral [trade] agreements” to “true regional integration.”
: The ARF convenes with Secretary Clinton attending. She urges South China Sea disputants to back their claims with legal evidence – a challenge to China’s declaration of sovereignty over vast stretches of the region.
: Secretary Clinton at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) gathering in Bali urges ASEAN to convince Burma to become more “seriously involved with the international community” including domestic political reforms and “nonproliferation agreements.”
: China and ASEAN agree to a set of guidelines that would be part of a revised Code of Conduct on the South China Sea disputes. Secretary of State Clinton praises the new guidelines as “an important first step.”
: Sen. Webb calls on the State Department to clarify US treaty commitments to aid the Philippines in the event China uses force in the South China Sea.
: The International Court of Justice rules that Thailand and Cambodia should withdraw their forces from a disputed border area adjacent to the Preah Vihear temple.
: Three US Navy ships begin a seven-day exercise with the Vietnamese Navy. Rear Adm. Tom Carney states the long-planned exercise demonstrates America’s ongoing presence in the Western Pacific and South China Sea.
: A US Federal Court of Appeals rules that Indonesian villagers in Aceh have the right to sue Exxon-Mobil in US courts for alleged human rights abuses dating back to 2001.
: Burma’s Deputy Chief of Mission to the US requests political asylum, citing the flawed elections in his country, conflicts with ethnic minority groups, and continued threats against Aung San Suu Kyi.
: Thailand’s Pheu Thai Party led by Yingluck Shinawatra wins an absolute parliamentary majority in Thailand’s national election over the governing Democratic Party.
: US and Philippine navies hold their annual CARAT exercise in the waters east of Palawan.
: The four remaining top leaders of the Khmer Rouge go before the UN-backed genocide tribunal in Phnom Penh for offenses committed between 1975 and 1979.
: The US Senate passes a resolution sponsored by Sen. Webb deploring China’s use of force against Philippine and Vietnamese ships.
: Singapore complains that the US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report was riddled with “inaccuracies” about the city-state’s actual record. Malaysia similarly complains.
: The State Department announces the US is consulting with other countries to establish a UN commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations in Burma.
: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper meets Secretary del Rosario and promises to share intelligence on the regional maritime situation.
: Secretary of State Clinton meets Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Del Rosario and affirms US security commitments.
: Radical Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual founder of Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, is convicted of terrorism and sentenced to 15 years in jail.
: US and Vietnam hold their fourth Political, Security, and Defense Dialogue in Washington. Under Secretary of State William Burns and Assistant Secretary Campbell meet Vice Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh to discuss the strategic dimensions of the relationship.
: The US Navy leads a naval counter-terrorist (SEACAT) exercise in the Sulu Sea with ships from the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and Brunei.
: US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas states that the US is committed to helping the Philippines in any dispute over the South China Sea.
: Sen. James Webb introduces Senate resolution condemning China’s use of force in the South China Sea and calling for peaceful, multilateral negotiations of maritime disputes.
: US Marines complete a training program for Thai police and military on the use of nonlethal force for crowd control one year after the Thai military killed 91 in an anti-coup insurrection in Bangkok.
: Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell arrives in Surabya, Indonesia, to prepare for the East Asia Summit, which President Obama will attend in November.
: The 10th annual Shangri-La Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue is held in Singapore.
: Sen. John McCain meets Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon and pledges support for democracy restoration.
: US Pacific Command Commander Adm. Robert Willard in an address to Malaysia’s Institute for Security and Strategic Studies Asia-Pacific Roundtable praises cooperation between the two countries’ navies and urges peaceful negotiation to resolve South China Sea conflicts.
: Members of the US Congress criticize Vietnam for convicting seven land rights activists and sentencing them to between two and eight years in jail for “subversion.”
: Deputy Assistant Secretary Yun, visiting Burma, states the US is seeking “common ground” with the new government. Nevertheless, the Obama administration has extended economic sanctions.
: The US and Indonesian navies hold their 17th CARAT exercise with three US warships participating and a total of 1,600 Navy and Marine personnel.
: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and the Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell visits Kuala Lumpur to discuss global terrorism, trade policy, and the role of US armed forces in the Pacific.
: Deputy Assistant Secretary Yun meets Nobel Prize winner and Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon. He also meets several leaders of the new government.
: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Yun meets Burma’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin.
: ASEAN Defense Ministers meet in Indonesia.
: Philippine President Benigno Aquino III visits the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. Philippine officials say no message was implied in the visit; it was just “routine.”
: The 2011 Cooperation Afloat and Readiness Training (CARAT) Thai-US exercises focus on maritime interdiction, combined operations at sea, anti-piracy and anti-smuggling. As in the past, interoperability of the participating navies is stressed.
: ASEAN heads meet in Jakarta and discuss mediation of the Thai-Cambodian military conflict on the Preah Vihear temple grounds. No solution is reached.
: US-based Human Rights Watch issues a report condemning the Thai government for not prosecuting those responsible for killings during the 2010 anti-government demonstrations in Bangkok.
: President Obama nominates Defense Department official Derek Mitchell to be special envoy to Burma subject to confirmation by the Senate.
: President Obama nominates Defense Department official Derek Mitchell to be special envoy to Burma subject to confirmation by the Senate.
: Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs confirms that it filed a formal protest in the UN over China’s so-called “nine-dash line” territorial claim over the South China Sea.
: Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs confirms that it filed a formal protest in the UN over China’s so-called “nine-dash line” territorial claim over the South China Sea.
: Foreign ministers and diplomats from ASEAN member countries hold a special informal ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting on the East Asian Summit (EAS) in Bangkok.
: Foreign ministers and diplomats from ASEAN member countries hold a special informal ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting on the East Asian Summit (EAS) in Bangkok.
: Indonesia convenes a special ASEAN-Japan Ministerial Meeting co-chaired by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and Japanese Foreign Minister Matsumoto Takeaki at the ASEAN Secretariat to discuss ASEAN-Japan cooperation on the management of disasters in the region.
: Indonesia convenes a special ASEAN-Japan Ministerial Meeting co-chaired by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and Japanese Foreign Minister Matsumoto Takeaki at the ASEAN Secretariat to discuss ASEAN-Japan cooperation on the management of disasters in the region.
: The US and the Philippines conduct the 27th annual Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) bilateral military exercises in the Philippines. The exercises are held partly off Palawan near the Spratly Islands. Some 500 soldiers from the Korea-based Second US Infantry Division participate, illustrating the Pentagon’s “strategic flexibility” doctrine.
: Singapore takes command of the Combined Task Force operating in the Gulf of Aden and western Indian Ocean in counter-piracy operations. The command teams operate from the US destroyer USS Mason.
: Indonesian President Susilio Bambang Yudhoyono offers to send Indonesian troops to help implement a UN-mandated ceasefire in Libya if the UNSC desires. He criticizes the UNSC-sanctioned no-fly zone because it leads to civilian casualties.
: Vietnam deports three Vietnamese-Americans who had participated in farmers’ protests against government graft and illegal land grabs in Ho Chi Minh City. The US Consulate helped facilitate the protesters’ release.
: The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) launches a disaster relief exercise in Manado, Indonesia. US Ambassador to Indonesia Scot Marciel expresses US support for these “major multilateral cooperative activities” by the ARF.
: Secretary Clinton in a phone call to Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario expresses concern over a March 2 maritime incident where Chinese naval boats harassed a Philippine oil exploration vessel near the Spratly Island Reed Banks.
: Senior Officers Meeting of APEC is held in Washington at which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterates US support for continuing APEC efforts to open trade and investment opportunities.
: Prime Minister Gillard addresses a joint session of the US Congress.
: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard visits President Obama at the White House where they discuss climate change, trade, Afghanistan, and Libya. President Obama praised Australia as one of the strongest allies of the US.
: The US 7th Fleet command ship, USS Blue Ridge, visits Port Klang, Malaysia. US Ambassador to Malaysia Paul Jones states that about 40 US Pacific Fleet ships will visit Malaysia this year.
: The US embassy in Jakarta issues a statement that government regulations restricting religious freedom of the Admadiyah sect would damage Indonesia’s reputation as a tolerant country protecting religious freedom.
: US Senate confirms David Corden as the first full-time US ambassador to ASEAN, succeeding Scot Marciel who is now US ambassador to Indonesia.
: US and Cambodian navies hold joint exercises to build humanitarian intervention capabilities.
: The US calls on Burma to see that no harm comes to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi after her party issues a statement urging Western countries to maintain their sanctions against the new regime. Feb. 27-March 2, 2011: US and Cambodian navies hold joint exercises to build humanitarian intervention capabilities. March 4, 2011: The US embassy in Jakarta issues a statement that government regulations restricting religious freedom of the Admadiyah sect would damage Indonesia’s reputation as a tolerant country protecting religious freedom. March 4, 2011: US Senate confirms David Corden as the first full-time US ambassador to ASEAN, succeeding Scot Marciel who is now US ambassador to Indonesia. March 7, 2011: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard visits President Obama at the White House where they discuss climate change, trade, Afghanistan, and Libya. President Obama praised Australia as one of the strongest allies of the US. March 7-9, 2011: The US 7th Fleet command ship, USS Blue Ridge, visits Port Klang, Malaysia. US Ambassador to Malaysia Paul Jones states that about 40 US Pacific Fleet ships will visit Malaysia this year. March 9, 2011: Prime Minister Gillard addresses a joint session of the US Congress. March 11-12, 2011: Senior Officers Meeting of APEC is held in Washington at which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterates US support for continuing APEC efforts to open trade and investment opportunities. March 14, 2011: Secretary Clinton in a phone call to Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario expresses concern over a March 2 maritime incident where Chinese naval boats harassed a Philippine oil exploration vessel near the Spratly Island Reed Banks. March 15, 2011: The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) launches a disaster relief exercise in Manado, Indonesia. US Ambassador to Indonesia Scot Marciel expresses US support for these “major multilateral cooperative activities” by the ARF. March 24, 2011: Vietnam deports three Vietnamese-Americans who had participated in farmers’ protests against government graft and illegal land grabs in Ho Chi Minh City. The US Consulate helped facilitate the protesters’ release. March 29, 2011: Indonesian President Susilio Bambang Yudhoyono offers to send Indonesian troops to help implement a UN-mandated ceasefire in Libya if the UNSC desires. He criticizes the UNSC-sanctioned no-fly zone because it leads to civilian casualties. March 31, 2011: Singapore takes command of the Combined Task Force operating in the Gulf of Aden and western Indian Ocean in counter-piracy operations. The command teams operate from the US destroyer USS Mason. April 5-15, 2011: The US and the Philippines conduct the 27th annual Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) bilateral military exercises in the Philippines. The exercises are held partly off Palawan near the Spratly Islands. Some 500 soldiers from the Korea-based Second US Infantry Division participate, illustrating the Pentagon’s “strategic flexibility” doctrine.
: The US calls on Burma to see that no harm comes to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi after her party issues a statement urging Western countries to maintain their sanctions against the new regime.
: Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Hor Namhong present arguments to the UNSC in New York regarding the disputed border area near the Preah Vihear temple. They also hold separate talks mediated by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.
: Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Hor Namhong present arguments to the UNSC in New York regarding the disputed border area near the Preah Vihear temple. They also hold separate talks mediated by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.
: The USS Essex Amphibious Ready Group begins an exercise with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, emphasizing humanitarian activities.
: The USS Essex Amphibious Ready Group begins an exercise with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, emphasizing humanitarian activities.
: US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley expresses concern over Indonesian mob violence against the minority Ahmadiyah community as well as church bombings in central Java.
: US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley expresses concern over Indonesian mob violence against the minority Ahmadiyah community as well as church bombings in central Java.
: The annual Cobra Gold joint multilateral military exercise involving 17,000 personnel is held in Thailand with seven countries – US, Thailand, Japan, the ROK, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia – participating.
: The annual Cobra Gold joint multilateral military exercise involving 17,000 personnel is held in Thailand with seven countries – US, Thailand, Japan, the ROK, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia – participating.
: Burma’s Parliament convenes for the first time in two decades after flawed elections permit the military to dominate the legislature through reserved seats and a military-backed political party.
: Burma’s Parliament convenes for the first time in two decades after flawed elections permit the military to dominate the legislature through reserved seats and a military-backed political party.
: The US and the Philippines hold their first-ever Strategic Dialogue in Manila bringing together officials from their respective foreign affairs and defense departments. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell promises US aid to the Philippine Navy to help increase its patrol capabilities in surrounding waters.
: The US and the Philippines hold their first-ever Strategic Dialogue in Manila bringing together officials from their respective foreign affairs and defense departments. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell promises US aid to the Philippine Navy to help increase its patrol capabilities in surrounding waters.
: US-based Human Rights Watch releases a report condemning the Burmese military junta’s November 2010 election and the new government’s human rights violations.
: US-based Human Rights Watch releases a report condemning the Burmese military junta’s November 2010 election and the new government’s human rights violations.
: The USS Hawaii, a new Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, visits Singapore.
: At an ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Lombok, Indonesia, the ministers urge the US and Europe to lift sanctions against Burma now that the country has held elections and released Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.
: The Philippine government applauds a US court decision awarding compensation to victims of abuse during the Ferdinand Marcos regime. Each of 7,500 victims will be awarded $1,000, a symbolic acknowledgment of their suffering. The money will be distributed from frozen Marcos-era assets in the US.
: The US lodges a protest with Vietnam for a police assault on a US diplomat who monitors human rights after he tried to visit a dissident priest.
: Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgriantaro states that Indonesia and the US will lead an ASEAN Plus 8 counterterrorism training program in Bali later this year. Jan. 6, 2011: The US lodges a protest with Vietnam for a police assault on a US diplomat who monitors human rights after he tried to visit a dissident priest. Jan. 15, 2011: The Philippine government applauds a US court decision awarding compensation to victims of abuse during the Ferdinand Marcos regime. Each of 7,500 victims will be awarded $1,000, a symbolic acknowledgment of their suffering. The money will be distributed from frozen Marcos-era assets in the US. Jan. 16, 2011: At an ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Lombok, Indonesia, the ministers urge the US and Europe to lift sanctions against Burma now that the country has held elections and released Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest. Jan. 18, 2011: The USS Hawaii, a new Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, visits Singapore.
: Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgriantaro states that Indonesia and the US will lead an ASEAN Plus 8 counterterrorism training program in Bali later this year.
: Thongsing Thammavong is appointed prime minister of Laos after the surprise resignation of Bouasone Bouphavanh.
: Thailand lifts a state of emergency in Bangkok and three neighboring areas, seven months after a military crackdown on anti-government “Red Shirt” protests.
: Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare “steps aside” in anticipation of facing a leadership tribunal for failure to submit full income returns to the Ombudsman Commission. He appoints Deputy Prime Minister Sam Abal as acting prime minister.
: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Yun visits Burma and meets Foreign Minister U Nyan, Police Chief Brig. Gen. Khin Yi, and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
: Secretary Clinton and Seretary Gates attend the annual Australia-US Ministerial talks in Canberra where Australia’s role in Afghanistan, cyber security, and counterterrorism are on the agenda.
Nov. 9, 2010: Speaking in Jakarta, President Obama pledges to send humanitarian aid to victims of the Mount Merapi eruptions in Central Java and the tsunami in Mentawai. Obama and Indonesian President Susilio Bamgang Yudhoyono initial a Comprehensive Partnership Agreement covering several areas of policy cooperation.
Nov. 9, 2010: Secretary Gates holds discussions in Kuala Lumpur with Malaysian Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Nov. 13, 2010: Burmese Nobel-laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is freed from seven years of house arrest in Rangoon following the military junta’s rigged election victory. President Obama praises her steadfast efforts to promote genuine democracy.
Nov. 16, 2010: Russian arms dealer Victor Bout, held in a Thai jail since his 2008 arrest, is extradited to stand trial in the US for arms trafficking to terrorist groups.
Nov. 24, 2010: US Army Chief of Staff General George Casey visits Vietnam, hoping to boost military-to-military relations.
: The ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus 8 (ADMM+) convenes in Hanoi, with Secretary Gates in attendance.
Oct. 19, 2010: Responding to an Obama administration request, Malaysia sends a military medical continent to Afghanistan to serve with the International Security Assistance Force.
Oct. 21, 2010: USS Essex, participating in PHILBEX, responds to an appeal from the Philippine government to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the wake of Typhoon Megi.
Oct. 25, 2010: US military personnel deliver more than 170,000 pounds of relief supplies to victims of Typhoon Megi. USAID announces an additional $800,000 for disaster relief.
Oct. 26, 2010: Over 1,000 US and Cambodian sailors engage in the first at-sea US-Cambodian CARAT exercise. The US Navy also conducts bilateral CARAT exercises with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Bangladesh.
Oct. 26, 2010: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon turns down an appeal by Thai opposition Red Shirts to intervene with the Thai government on the investigation of deaths of their members during the April-May riots in Bangkok.
Oct. 27, 2010: US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley accuses the Burmese junta of “craven manipulation” of the upcoming election and says all political prisoners should be immediately released and that Aung San Suu Kyi should be allowed to participate.
Oct. 27, 2010: US congressmen call on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to raise human rights issues in her Vietnam visit after the ASEAN Summit. Oct. 28, 2010: President Barack Obama and Secretary Clinton send condolences to Indonesia for the families of victims of the Oct. 25 earthquake-generated tsunami in Mentawai, West Sumatra.
Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2010: Secretary Clinton visits Cambodia, emphasizing human rights. Nov. 1-3, 2010: Secretary Clinton visits Malaysia, emphasizing the country’s role as a center for moderate Islam.
Nov. 2, 2010: US Ambassador to Indonesia Scot Marciel stresses that America’s “good relationship” with the country will be maintained despite Democratic Party losses in the US midterm elections.
Nov. 3, 2010: Secretary Clinton visits Papua New Guinea, promoting human rights in the violence-prone country.
Nov. 4, 2010: The US and New Zealand sign a new partnership document, the Wellington Declaration, which covers general defense cooperation, nuclear nonproliferation, and South Pacific and Antarctic cooperation.
: The aircraft carrier USS George Washington arrives in Thailand for a five-day visit with a crew of 6,250 and 80 aircraft aboard.
Oct. 3, 2010: US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Yun in a Congressional hearing states that the US is concerned about reports of human rights abuses in Papua and supports implementation of the 2001 Special Autonomy Law for that Indonesian province.
Oct. 4, 2010: US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas urges ASEAN and China to make their 2002 Declaration of Conduct on the Spratly islands into a legally binding code. He says the US would be willing to assist ASEAN in this endeavor.
Oct. 4, 2010: Thailand asks the US for a mid-life upgrade of 18 F-16A/B aircraft worth about $700 million.
Oct. 11, 2010: US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking at the Vietnam National University, praises the development of defense ties between the two countries represented by the August visit of the USS John McCain as well as Vietnam’s observer status at recent Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises.
Oct. 12, 2010: The US and Philippine navies conduct bilateral CARAT and PHILBEX exercises. Nearly 4,000 personnel from both countries participate in an amphibious landing exercise to enhance interoperability.
: President Obama convenes a luncheon meeting for this year’s ASEAN-US summit on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York. Topping the agenda are discussions of Burma’s forthcoming “elections,” the South China Sea disputes, and a variety of social, political, and economic proposals.
: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell asks Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya to seek a compromise with Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple grounds dispute.
: Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegowa and Secretary Clinton hold inaugural meeting in Washington of the two countries’ Joint Commission – a follow on to the Comprehensive Partnership signed by Presidents Obama and Yudhoyono in 2009.
: Paul W. Jones assumes his post as the US ambassador to Malaysia.
: Vietnam’s Ambassador to the US Le Cong Phung states that the two countries are in an excellent period of bilateral relations.
: Indonesian President Yudhoyono urges President Obama to intervene personally to stop the proposed Koran burning threatened by a Florida pastor to commemorate the 9/11 anniversary. Malaysia also calls on the US to stop the pastor.
: USS George Washington arrives in Manila for a goodwill visit.
: Thailand agrees to extradite Russian arms merchant Victor Bout to the US on arms trafficking charges.
: The US and Vietnam hold their first-ever defense talks in Hanoi, described by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Sher as extremely productive and successful.
: US Ambassador-designate Scot Marciel arrives in Jakarta.
: The destroyer USS John McCain arrives in Danang for the first joint US-Vietnam naval exercise that focuses on search and rescue and damage control.
: High-level Vietnamese civilian and military officials are flown to the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS George Washington, steaming 200 miles off Vietnam’s east coast – the first such visit.
: State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley states that the US and Vietnam are discussing the provision of civilian nuclear technology to Vietnam.
: The Pacific Fleet command ship, USS Blue Ridge, visits Manila for a four-day goodwill visit.
: The US Navy hospital ship Mercy anchors off Ambon, Indonesia, to provide medical services to the local population.
: Cambodia’s first-ever multinational military exercise led by the US Defense and State Departments, Angkor Sentinel 10, ends. Its purpose was peacekeeper training.
: An international war crimes court in Phnom Penh convicts the chief prison warden and torturer of the Khmer Rouge period, Kaing Guek Ear – known as Duch – of crimes against humanity and sentences him to 19 years in prison, taking 16 years from a 35-year sentence for time already served.
: Secretary Clinton at the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Hanoi proffers a US mediation role for the protracted Spratly and Paracel Islands disputes involving Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan, and China.
: Secretary Clinton visits Vietnam to celebrate 15 years of diplomatic relations and criticizes the government for jailing democracy advocates, religious groups, and establishing curbs on networking websites.
: Secretary Clinton meets foreign ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam to discuss a framework for the Lower Mekong River Initiative to which Washington has pledged $187 million for environmental, education, and health programs.
: Undersecretary Burns visits Manila, affirming support for the new government of President Benigno Aquino III and discusses human rights, combatting human trafficking, anti-corruption, and transparency.
: The US Embassy in Phnom Penh and the Cambodian government conduct a weeklong celebration of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
: US Undersecretary of State William Burns in Phnom Penh defends US military aid to Cambodia despite domestic abuses attributed to Cambodian military units.
: The US and Indonesian Air Forces hold a joint exercise in Indonesia involving 110 US and 155 Indonesian personnel that emphasizes logistics, intelligence, and parachuting.
: US Navy Seals and Indonesian frogmen conduct a VIP protection exercise in Surabaya.
: Laotian Foreign Minister Thonglison Sisoulith visits Washington to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – the first visit by a top Laotian official since the 1975 communist victory in that nation.
: In Houston, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong states that his country is a full participant in the global process that fights illicit money flows.
: Vietnam and the US celebrate 15 years of diplomatic relations in ceremonies in both Hanoi and Washington DC.
: US Pacific Command and the Cambodian military co-host the 2010 Global Peace Operations Initiative to help train peacekeepers. More than 1,000 military personnel from 23 Asia-Pacific countries participate.
: The US and Singapore Navies and the US Coast Guard engage in a Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise, emphasizing interoperability in anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare.
: Vietnam and the US sign a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly prevent the illegal transport of nuclear and other radioactive materials. The US Department of Energy will provide Hanoi with container scanners for radioactive detection.
: US House of Representatives passes a resolution endorsing Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s 5-point reconciliation roadmap. Thailand’s Foreign Ministry welcomes the resolution.
: US Ambassador to Indonesia Cameron Hume dedicates $56 million in coastal and shipboard radars, helping Indonesia to create one of the world’s largest integrated maritime surveillance systems.
: US Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes to extend sanctions on Burma for one more year because of the junta’s civil rights abuses. The sanctions have been extended annually since the 2003 Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act came into force.
: Benigno Aquino III is sworn in as the president of the Philippines.
: Scot Marciel, currently deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and US ambassador to ASEAN, is nominated to be ambassador to Indonesia.
: The State Department releases its “Human Trafficking Report 2010” which criticizes several ASEAN countries for labor trafficking and prostitution.
: After a third reporter is murdered in the Philippines over the weekend, the State Department urges the Philippine government to move quickly to prosecute the perpetrators.
: US Ambassador to Indonesia Cameron Hume speaks at a seminar sponsored by the Islamic Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) on “The US View of Islam,” an effort to broaden the PKS appeal as a moderate Muslim party.
: The eighth annual Southeast Asia Cooperation against Terrorism (SEACAT) maritime security exercise begins in Singapore with the US and six Southeast Asian navies tracking simulated vessels of interest.
: Singapore objects to its inclusion in the annual State Department Watch List on Human Trafficking and counters that the US should examine its own record on immigration.
: The US and Indonesia sign a defense framework agreement in Jakarta covering training, procurement, and maritime security. However, the US ban on Indonesia’s Special Forces (Kopassus) remains in place.
: Over 100 US soldiers and airmen join Indonesian forces for the exercise Garuda Shield 10 in Bandung on peace support and stability training.
: Sen. Benigno Aquino III is officially proclaimed the winner of the Philippines’ presidential election during a joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
: The US-Vietnam Political, Security, and Defense Dialogue is held in Hanoi, focusing on peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, maritime search and rescue, and nonproliferation.
: Cambodia participates in its first CARAT exercise with the USS Tortuga that includes shipboard training and jungle operations for US and Cambodian naval personnel.
: Because of the continuing crisis in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, President Obama postpones his trip to Indonesia for the second time.
: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates meets Indonesian Defense Minister Pumomo Yusgiantoro on the sidelines of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. They discuss removing the US ban on training for Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus).
: Malaysia announces that the US has upgraded Kuala Lumpur’s participation from observer to participant in the annual multinational Thai-US exercise, Cobra Gold.
: The US hospital ship Mercy visits Vietnam providing medical services as part of the Pacific partnership humanitarian aid program.
: The US and Indonesian Navies engage in joint exercises in and around Surabaya, East Java.
: The US Embassy in Bangkok reopens for “limited operations” after violence in the vicinity of the Embassy ends.
: The US Senate unanimously passes a resolution drawn up by Sen. Jim Webb affirming support for the US-Thai alliance and calling for an end to violence.
: The Indonesian-US Security Dialogue focuses on the roles of militaries in disaster relief, peacekeeping, counterterrorism, and bilateral military relations.
: Malaysian Minister of Defense Ahmad Zahid Hamide visits Washington for talks with the Pentagon, National Security Council, State Department, and leading think tanks.
: US Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero visits Indonesia to engage government officials in an array of human security issues.
: The US Embassy in Bangkok warns US citizens against travel to Thailand because of the violence generated by the confrontation between the government and populist opponents. The Embassy also authorizes non-essential government workers and their families to leave the country.
: President Obama informs Congress that the administration plans to renew sanctions against Burma based on the ruling junta’s failure to allow the political opposition a role in upcoming elections.
: The US and Thai Navies engage in the CARAT exercise, encompassing riverine, anti-submarine, and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) warfare maneuvers.
: The US Embassy in Bangkok closes to the public as the Thai Army begins to move against Red Shirt enclaves.
: Assistant Secretary Campbell meets detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon.
: The second iteration of Pacific Angel 2010 takes place in Can Tho, Vietnam, with over 50 US military working on humanitarian assistance with Vietnamese counterparts.
: Assistant Secretary Campbell meets with leaders of the opposition United Front for Democracy, Against Dictatorship (UDD) in Bangkok.
: President Obama commends Indonesia’s decision to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty at the opening session of the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference.
: Elements of the US Pacific Fleet and the Royal Brunei Navy engage in the 16th series of CARAT exercises off the Brunei coast with both sea-based maneuvers and symposia.
: Southeast Asian economic ministers visit the US for a nationwide business tour sponsored by the US-ASEAN Business Council. Burma is excluded from the group because of its violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1874 on arms trade with North Korea.
: The US hospital ship Mercy sails from San Diego for the fifth annual US Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavor with visits planned for Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Timor-Leste.
: The US State Department issues a travel alert for Thailand urging US citizens to avoid non-essential travel to the country.
: The second ASEAN-US Joint Cooperation Committee meets at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.
: The new US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. presents his credentials to President Arroyo. He emphasizes the Peace Corps presence in the country with 130 volunteers working in 40 provinces.
: US Ambassador to ASEAN Scot Marciel visits Indonesia for the Joint US-ASEAN Consultative Committee focusing on capacity building in the ASEAN Secretariat.
: The US Commission on International Religious Freedom releases its Congressionally-mandated annual report that designates Burma and Vietnam as countries of particular concern. The report also criticizes the White House for not effectively pursuing a religious freedom agenda or naming a State Department officer in that role.
: Indonesia attends the US Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington, DC, part of President Obama’s pledge to broaden ties with the Islamic world.
: Presidential candidate Benigno Aquino III says he will review the Philippine’s security treaty with the US to insure that there is no permanent US presence in Mindanao.
: State Department spokesman Philip Crowley expresses Washington’s alarm at the protracted conflict between supporters and opponents of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that had led to bloodshed and calls on both sides to negotiate a settlement.
: Welcoming Cambodia’s inauguration of a new counterterrorism center, a US spokesman states that Cambodia’s porous borders are a concern not only because of terrorist movements but also transnational crimes such as narcotics trafficking.
: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visits the US to attend the NNS and urges Washington to pay more attention to his country and to ASEAN.
: ASEAN leaders attending the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington include Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak visits the US to attend the NNS and meet President Obama. US-ASEAN ties are stressed as well as a “strategic partnership” between the two countries.
: ASEAN leaders, meeting in Hanoi, invite President Barack Obama to attend a second 2010 ASEAN Summit in Hanoi to be scheduled later in the year.
: Red Shirt pro-Thaksin opposition in Thailand sends a letter through the US Embassy in Bangkok thanking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her expression of concern about the political situation in Thailand.
: US suspends nonlethal military aid to Cambodia following Phnom Penh’s deportation to China of ethnic Uighurs seeking asylum in Cambodia.
: US Trade Representative releases annual its National Trade Estimate Report, which identifies barriers to foreign trade around the world, including Southeast Asian countries.
: Vietnam and the US sign a Nuclear Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding to help develop the Vietnamese civilian nuclear power sector.
: Burmese opposition party, National League for Democracy, announces it will not participate in planned elections because of “unjust” electoral laws, which would require that the party to expel its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
: Commander of the US Pacific Command Adm. Robert Willard testifies before the House Armed Services Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee on security conditions and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
: The White House announces that President Obama will postpone his trip to Indonesia because of the House vote on health care legislation.
: Indonesian and US Air Forces begin a review of F-5s, F-16s and C-130s for the first time in two years, to remedy maintenance issues that resulted in part from the multi-year gap in military cooperation when the Indonesian military was under US sanctions.
: Burmese authorities release US citizen Nyi Nyi Aung, who returns to the US.
: “Red shirt” protests in Thailand cause Assistant Secretary Campbell to cancel the Bangkok leg of his trip, explaining that he “does not want to add to the logistical burden of our Thai friends.”
: The US and Vietnam join six other nations (including Singapore and Brunei) at the fourth round of TransPacific Trade Partnership negotiations in Melbourne.
: Singapore, Thailand, and US Air Forces conclude Copy Tiger, annual trilateral air exercises, at Korat Airbase in Thailand. This year’s exercises included 80 aircraft and 1,000 personnel from the three air forces.
: Assistant Secretary Campbell visits Laos to participate in the US-Laos Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue, the highest-ranking US official to do so. He also meets representatives of the Mekong River Commission.
: As pro-Thaksin “red shirt” protestors gear up for another round of demonstrations, the US Embassy in Bangkok calls upon the protestors to foreswear the use of violence and the Royal Thai government to exercise appropriate restraints.
: State Department spokesman Philip Crowley tells reporters that the Burmese political party registration law is “a mockery of the democratic process and ensures the upcoming election will be devoid of credibility.”
: At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Assistant Secretary Campbell is asked if the US will support Vietnamese efforts to negotiate a solution to South China Sea problems with China and responds that Washington “welcomes China’s commitment to engage again in the Code of Conduct.”
: The Burmese government issues five laws on the election commission, political party registration, lower and upper houses of Parliament, and state and division legislatures.
: Singapore Navy warns that an unidentified terrorist group is planning an attack on oil tankers in the Straits of Malacca.
: Assistant Secretary Campbell testifies before the House Subcommittee on Asia, Pacific and Global Environment (House International Relations Committee).
: Four leaders of the Indonesian TNI Special Forces unit Kopassus visit Washington for discussions on the prospects of resuming training for the unit.
: The USS Patriot arrives in port at Sihanoukville to conduct training exercises with the Cambodian Navy, emphasizing damage control, search and seizure, and at-sea rescue.
: Burma convicts US citizen Nyi Nyi Aung (born Kyaw Zaw Lwin), a pro-democracy activist arrested in September, for forging a national identity card, possession of undeclared foreign currency, and failure to renounce his Burmese citizenship; charges that are widely considered to be politically motivated.
: The (second) sodomy trial of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim begins in Kuala Lumpur. On May 8 Deputy Foreign Minister A. Kohilan Pillay warns foreign governments not to criticize the Malaysian justice system or to “meddle” in the trial.
: The US and Thailand, joined by Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, and South Korea complete the 29th round of Cobra Gold, with observers from 15 countries.
: Indonesia and the US co-sponsor an interfaith dialogue in Jakarta that includes participants from several Asian nations.
: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell confirms that US sanctions on Burma will remain in place “until Burmese authorities demonstrate they are prepared to make meaningful progress on US core concerns,” in testimony before the Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
: Singapore assumes command of Combined Task Force 151, a multinational anti-piracy group, from the US in a ceremony in Bahrain.
: The US takes a major step toward establishing a Permanent Mission to ASEAN, the first ASEAN dialogue partner to do so, when Josh Cartin takes up his responsibilities as Resident Representative of the US Ambassador for ASEAN Affairs in Jakarta.
: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a major policy address on Asian regional architecture in Honolulu, with considerable attention to ASEAN.
: A House Asia Subcommittee Congressional Delegation, led by Chair Eni Faleomavaega and including Rep. Mike Honda and Rep. Joseph Cao, visits Laos and checks on status of 4,000 Hmong repatriated from Thailand in late December.
: Sen. Webb meets Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
: Detained Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi announces through her attorney that she is ready to help the military junta get the West to lift economic sanctions.
: Speaking on the sidelines of the UN, Secretary Clinton announces a change in the Obama administration’s Burma policy to engage the military junta while still maintaining economic sanctions.
: The U.S. drops charges against former Hmong Gen. Vang Pao, who was indicted in 2007 for planning to overthrow the communist government of Laos.
: U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Michalak expresses concern over the arrests of Vietnamese journalists and bloggers as efforts to “criminalize free speech.” Sixteen U.S. Congress members co-sponsor a resolution calling on Hanoi to release imprisoned bloggers and respect internet freedom.
: Defense Secretary Gates pledges to continue counter-terrorism cooperation with Philippine forces in Mindanao after meeting Philippine Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Jr. in Washington.
: Philippine President Arroyo defends the presence of U.S. troops in Mindanao saying they help the Philippine armed forces but do not engage in combat.
: The U.S. urges Burma to halt attacks on ethnic minorities in the country’s remote northeast region.
: Three members of the U.S. House of Representatives meet with the Central Executive Committee of the Burmese opposition party – The National League of Democracy – in Rangoon to discuss human rights and the current political situation.
: Sen. Webb meets Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in Hanoi to discuss bilateral trade and the granting of General System of Preferences status to Vietnamese products.
: The U.S. presides over a maritime security seminar involving officials from Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines to discuss coordinating air and maritime patrols in overlapping spaces to curb smuggling and piracy.
: U.S. Sen. James Webb meets Burma’s junta leader Gen. Than Shwe and obtains the release of convicted American John Yettaw.
: The U.S. and the Philippines sign a military cooperation agreement for 2010, focusing on terrorism in Mindanao. Aid will be provided to the Coast Watch South project.
: President Obama condemns Burmese court sentence of Aung San Suu Kyi to an additional 18 months of home detention as violating “universal principles of human rights.” The conviction will prevent her participation in a national election scheduled for next year.
: Bangkok’s Criminal Court says it does not have the authority to extradite Victor Bout, a Russian arms dealer, from Thailand to the U.S. on charges of offering to supply weapons to Colombian rebels. The Thai government and the U.S. appeal the ruling.
: Burma’s junta extends Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest by 18 months.
: A report compiled by Vietnam’s Defense Ministry and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation shows that more than one-third of the land in six central Vietnamese provinces remains contaminated with land mines and unexploded ordnance from the Vietnam War period with 16.3 million acres yet to be cleared.
: Philippine President Gloria Arroyo meets President Obama in Washington where Obama says that he views the Philippines as the chief coordinator between the U.S. and ASEAN.
: President Obama extends sanctions against Burma that were due to expire, including a ban on gem imports.
: The latest Pew Global Attitudes Project Survey shows that President Obama’s election raised the approval rating of the U.S. to 73 percent, the highest since the Clinton years.
: The Philippine government suspends its military offensives against secessionists in Mindanao in an effort to restart negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
: Final results from Indonesia’s presidential election held on July 8 are announced and confirm that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won a landslide victory over his two opponents, capturing 61 percent of the votes and a majority in 28 of Indonesia’s 33 provinces.
: Secretary Clinton meets with representatives of the four riparian Lower Mekong basin countries (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam) to discuss water management policy – the first time the U.S. has been involved in Mekong River issues.
: Secretary Clinton at the ASEAN Ministerial meeting in Phuket, Thailand, signs the Association’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, a nonaggression pact, while declaring “The United States is back in Southeast Asia.”
: At the ARF meeting in Phuket, Secretary Clinton excoriates Burma’s human rights record, including its treatment of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
: Secretary Clinton meets Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Anuna at the ARF meeting and discusses progress toward the U.S.-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement and two Malaysians still held at Guantanamo. Clinton also says ASEAN should consider expelling Burma if Aunt San Suu Kyi is not released – a suggestion rejected by Anifah.
: Secretary Clinton meets Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to discuss the U.S. diplomatic, strategic, and economic role in Asia.
: The 42nd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, Post-Ministerial Conferences, and 16th ASEAN Regional Forum meet in Phuket, Thailand.
: ASEAN foreign ministers denounce the Jakarta bomb attacks and express solidarity with Indonesia in its “fight against terrorism.”
: Suicide terrorists bomb the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta killing nine and injuring over 40, many of them foreigners.
: President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemn the “senseless, outrageous” bomb attacks in Jakarta; and Clinton offers U.S. assistance.
: In the UN Security Council, the U.S. representative expresses skepticism that the Burmese junta will hold free, fair, and credible elections scheduled for 2010.
: Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta meets Philippine President Gloria Arroyo to discuss bilateral security cooperation.
: U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Cameron Hume says the U.S. is monitoring the Indonesian presidential election in Aceh “at the request of the Indonesian government” and is not interfering in any way.
: U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney states that any postponement of Philippine general elections, scheduled for May 2010, would cause concern in Washington.
: Thirty-seven U.S. senators urge Vietnam’s president to free a Roman Catholic priest and human rights advocate, Rev. Nguyen Van Li, who was sentenced to eight years in prison for promoting religious freedom and democracy.
: Singapore Ambassador to the U.S. Chan Heng Chee says East Asia’s economic recovery from the global recession depends first on recovery in the United States.
: A two-week peacekeeping training exercise involving 20 Asia-Pacific countries and fully funded by the U.S. Pacific Command begins in Indonesia.
: Thirty-one members of Congress petition Secretary Clinton to convince Thailand not to repatriate Hmong refugees to Laos and to allow outside access to a Hmong refugee camp along the border.
: The annual U.S. watch list of countries suspected of not doing enough to combat human trafficking is released and includes most Southeast Asian countries.
: The second security dialogue between the U.S. and Vietnam is held in Washington and discusses peacekeeping training as well as disaster relief, counterdrug, and counterterrorism cooperation.
: The U.S. and Singapore navies in their 15th annual CARAT exercise deploy submarines for the first time alongside surface combatants.
: The Cambodian government complains that Ambassador Williamson’s criticism of corruption in Cambodia is “incomplete, irresponsible, and unfounded.”
: Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits the Philippines and promises additional aid for building Philippine military counterinsurgency capacity.
: The 8th Shangri-La Defense Dialogue among Asia-Pacific defense ministers meets in Singapore.
: Secretary Clinton excoriates Burma’s leaders for trying opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, saying the trial is “outrageous” and that her detention is based solely on the desire to stifle her “political popularity.”
: On a four-day visit to Phnom Penh, U.S. Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Clint Williamson says the Cambodian Khmer Rouge tribunal is “making real progress” but needs to implement anti-graft mechanisms.
: President Obama extends sanctions on Burma for another year saying the junta’s actions “are hostile to U.S. interests” and pose an “extraordinary threat” to U.S. national security.
: Secretary Clinton meets visiting Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman to discuss maritime piracy among other issues, including the stalled Malaysian-U.S. trade agreement.
: U.S. embassy officials are given access to John W. Yettaw, who is being detained in Insein Prison along with Aung San Suu Kyi.
: State Department spokesman Ian Kelly urges Burma’s junta to provide medical care for Aung San Suu Kyi who is ill and whose physician has been arrested.
: Burma’s military junta arrests John W. Yettaw, a U.S. citizen, for swimming across a lake to the residence of detained opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
: Indonesian Air Force Chief of Staff General Subandrio states that future suppliers for the Indonesian armed forces must guarantee that there will be no embargo of their sales. This is a reaction to U.S. embargos imposed by Washington during the latter Suharto years.
: The State Department states that the U.S. is not considering lifting sanctions against Burma as Washington reviews its Burma policy.
: The State Department pays tribute to ASEAN for its work in helping bring relief to the victims of Cyclone Nargis in Burma as well as ASEAN’s continued work with humanitarian aid groups.
: U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney says the VisitingForces Agreement works well and needs no modification. The Philippine Senate is considering a review of the arrangement.
: Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo meets Secretary Clinton who refers to the city-state as a critical part of the global economy and praises its efforts to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib promises to investigate after a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report claims that thousands of Burmese refugees were handed over to human traffickers in Thailand and forced to work in brothels, fishing boats, and restaurants to earn enough money to buy their freedom.
: U.S. Justice Department documents on harsh interrogation techniques practiced against top Al Qaeda detainees in 2002 are released indicating that these actions occurred in Thailand, a revelation previously denied by the Thai government.
: The U.S. offers to assist the Philippines with technical support, though not direct combat assistance, in freeing two Red Cross hostages being held by the Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines.
: The annual Philippine-U.S. Balikatan joint exercise takes place in the Bicol region. For the first time in 16 years, U.S. aircraft for the exercise operate from Philippine bases.
: State Department spokesman Robert Wood characterizes the anti-government violence in Thailand that led to the cancellation of an ASEAN plus 3 and the East Asia Summit as “unacceptable” and urges political opponents to return to peaceful demonstrations.
: A group of 10 U.S. women senators urge UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to put pressure on Burma’s ruling junta to scrap election plans and release Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.
: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a Cambodian New Year’s message cites progress in Khmer-U.S. relations over the past year including U.S. Navy humanitarian ship visits, economic assistance, and the presence of U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in 11 provinces.
: The annual ASEAN summit convenes in Pattaya, Thailand, including meetings with the association’s major dialogue partners. On April 12, the meeting is disrupted by pro-Thaksin opposition demonstrators and foreign leaders flee by helicopters and ships.
: Visiting Vietnam, Sen. John McCain calls for closer economic relations and also greater political freedom.
: U.S. charge d’affaires in Burma Larry Dinyer says Washington has so far provided a total of $74 million in humanitarian assistance to Cyclone Nargis survivors.
: Twelve members of the U.S. Congress urge internet giants Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo to resist Vietnam’s efforts to restrict online political speech.
: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg says the U.S. is open to a new framework to discuss relations with Burma.
: The director of the State Department’s Mainland Southeast Asia Bureau meets with Burma’s foreign minister in the capital, Naypyidaw – the first time a U.S. official has met with a member of the ruling junta since it took office in 1997.
: Speaking in Phnom Penh, Stephen Blake, director of the State Department’s Mainland Southeast Asia Bureau, states that the U.S. will not interfere in the Cambodia-Thailand border dispute around the Preah Vihear temple and urges that the conflict be resolved peacefully.
: Suzette Nicolas submitted a sworn statement to a Philippine appeals court, recanting her accusation of rape against U.S. Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, who was convicted of the offense in December 2006 and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
: U.S. Navy destroyers begin the escort of U.S. surveillance ships in the South China Sea the day after Chinese boats harassed the USS Impeccable south of Hainan Island.
: The U.S. government reveals that hundreds of hours of video tapes showing harsh interrogation of Al Qaeda captives in Thailand were destroyed in 2005 as Congress and U.S. courts intensified their scrutiny of CIA detention and interrogation practices.
: The ASEAN summit meets in Hua Hin, Thailand. The meeting focuses on trade deals and prospects for an integrated economic community by 2015.
: Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati suggests to Secretary Clinton that Jakarta would be interested in a currency swap arrangement to help Indonesia through its current credit difficulties.
: Secretary Clinton visits Indonesia as part of her four nation initial Asia trip.
: The Second Asia-Pacific Intelligence Chiefs conference is held in Singapore co-hosted by the U.S. Pacific Command and Singapore with 25 countries represented.
: Adm. Timothy Keating at the Cobra Gold closing ceremony praises the Malacca Strait countries for their collaboration in ensuring safe maritime passage. Piracy dropped to just two cases in 2008 from 50 in 2007.
: The Philippine Supreme Court rules that a U.S. serviceman convicted of rape but detained on US embassy grounds must be transferred to a Philippine prison. The case has become entangled in Philippine national politics and the fairness of the Philippine-U.S. VFA.
: Ambassador Kenney says the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) for U.S. troops in the Philippines will continue under President Obama.
: Indonesian State Secretary Hatta Radjasa states that U.S. Secretary of State Clinton’s upcoming visit to Indonesia is a sign of the Obama administration’s outreach to the Muslim world.
: Cobra Gold, Asia’s largest U.S.-led and Thai-hosted annual multinational military exercise, takes place with an emphasis on peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.
: A U.S Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the USS Lassen, visits Bali where its crew is hosted by the Indonesian Navy. Vice Adm. John Bird, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, states that the U.S. Navy conducts 150 engagements annually with its Indonesian counterpart.
: The Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy sends a letter to President Obama through the U.S. embassy, urging him to help end the internecine Mindanao conflict. The letter refers to Obama’s pledge to seek better relations with the Muslim world.
: Burma’s weekly journal, The Voice, publishes excerpts from President Obama’s inaugural address, excluding passages that criticized “those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent….”
: 178 Philippine and 35 U.S. military personnel participate in the Balance Piston 90-01 exercise in Capiz in the Visayas to enhance interoperability between the armies as well as interagency cooperation between the military and law enforcement.
: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi says he is “happy with President Obama’s plans to engage the Muslim world.”
: Ambassador Kenney states the U.S. is prepared to aid in the search for three Red Cross personnel kidnapped in the southern Philippines presumably by the Abu Sayyaf.
: The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee states it is investigating allegations that Malaysian authorities are transporting Burmese refugees from government detention facilities and turning them over to human traffickers in southern Thailand.
: A U.S.-Vietnam education forum opens in Hanoi. Eighty U.S. universities have formed partnerships with Vietnam, and about 10,000 Vietnamese are studying in the U.S.
: Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro says that this year’s U.S.-Philippine Balikatan exercise would focus on rehabilitation in calamity-stricken areas and not be involved in the anti-insurgency campaign in the Bicol region.
: U.S.-based Human Rights Watch calls on the World Bank and donor countries to press Vietnam to stop arresting journalists who expose corruption and urges Hanoi to permit free media expression.
: Supporting anti-Israel and anti-American demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur, former Prime Minister Mahathir calls on Malaysians who work for U.S. companies to quit and to sell any U.S. dollars they own so that the U.S. “will become a bankrupt country and will not be able to produce weapons for Israel.”
: U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney states that President Obama will continue U.S. support for the Mindanao peace process including economic aid for the region’s development.
: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad calls for a global boycott of U.S.-made products because of U.S. backing for Israel on its war in Gaza against Hamas. He criticizes Washington’s veto of a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire and sees no change in U.S. policy under President Obama “because a lot of voters in America are Jews.”
: More than 3,000 Muslim demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Consulate in Medan, Indonesia condemning the Israeli attack on Gaza.
: Protesters in Bangkok block access to the Parliament building, forcing a one-day delay in the legislature’s opening session under Thailand’s new government.
: Burma signs a 30-year contract with four firms from South Korea and India to pipe natural gas to China from fields off Burma’s northwest coast.
: Abhisit Vejjajiva is elected prime minister of Thailand.
: ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting in Jakarta announce the activation of the Association’s new Charter, which formalizes members’ democracy and human rights commitments as well as the principle of noninterference in member’s domestic affairs.
: First Lady Laura Bush announces the U.S. will add $5 million to the $75 million in disaster relief provided to Burma in the aftermath of last May’s Cyclone Nargis.
: Lt. Gen. Douglas Fraser, deputy commander of PACOM, visits Philippine Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano. Along with U.S. Ambassador Kenney, they discuss the security situation in Mindanao.
: A State Department spokesman, citing a Thai court ruling calling for the Thai prime minister to step down, said the U.S. hopes it will lead to a resolution of the political crisis that has brought political life to a standstill.
: The State Department calls anti-government protestors’ seizure of the two Bangkok airports “not an appropriate means of protest” and urges them “to walk away from the airports peacefully.”
: The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok warns U.S. citizens to stay away from the capital’s airports, which thousands of anti-government demonstrators have seized in the extended confrontation with the Thai government.
: Secretary Rice and President Arroyo exchange compliments on the sidelines of the Peru APEC meeting, emphasizing efforts to suppress terrorists in the southern Philippines.
: The Sultan of Brunei visits the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) in Honolulu.
: PACOM Commander Adm. Timothy Keating visits Singapore and underscores the excellent bilateral defense relationship.
: The U.S. Embassy in Manila announces $25 million in assistance for individuals and families displaced by the fighting in Mindanao between government forces and Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels. The assistance will be primarily rice from the World Food Program and services from NGO partners.
: California, Illinois, and Wisconsin sign a pact with Indonesia’s Aceh Province that allows Aceh forest carbon credits to be sold to U.S. states to reduce global carbon dioxide.
: Indonesian President Yudhoyono arrives in Washington to attend the G20 summit on the global economic crisis.
: The U.S. Treasury Department freezes the assets of 26 individuals and 17 firms tied to drug trafficking in Burma and prohibits U.S. citizens from dealing with them.
: CIA Director Michael Hayden says that Indonesia-based Al-Qaeda affiliate, Jemmah Islamiya, has been significantly disrupted by the Indonesian National Police.
: President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo claims that the U.S. and the Philippines will remain “steadfast friends and allies” under President Obama.
: U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Eric John assures the Thai commerce minister that good U.S.-Thai relations will continue when President-elect Obama takes office and that there will be no discrimination against Thai trade and labor.
: U.S. and Brunei naval forces engage in a maritime security exercise with commandos from Brunei boarding a U.S. ship carrying “illicit cargo.”
: U.S. Ambassador to Singapore Patricia Herbold at the rollout of Singapore’s latest combat aircraft, the F-15SG, states the acquisition underscores the close relationship between the two countries. The SG is the most advanced in the F-15 series.
Oct. 28-29, 2008. U.S. and Philippine navies engage in the Philbex-2008 bilateral exercises in Subic Bay, part of which is civic action repair and repainting of schools in Olongapo City.
: The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service begins enforcing The Tom Lantos Block Burmese Jade Act aimed at keeping Burma’s jade and jewelry from third-party countries out of U.S. markets.
: President George W. Bush invites Indonesian President Yudhoyono to attend a mid-November meeting of the G20 on the global financial crisis in Washington, DC.
: Indonesia ratifies the ASEAN Charter clearing the way for its formal adoption.
: The USS Mustin visits Danang’s Tian Sa port, headquarters of Vietnam’s Navy Zone 3, which is responsible for patrolling the area of disputed Paracel and Spratly Islands.
: State Department spokesman Sean McCormack tells reporters that the U.S. urges restraint on both Cambodia and Thailand after a gunfight broke out in a disputed zone near a landmark 11th century temple.
: 4000 Filipino and U.S. soldiers inaugurate the two-week annual joint Talon Vision and Amphibious Landing Exercise (Philbex) involving integrated air, ground, and naval training along with civic action in selected communities.
: Thai and Cambodian soldiers exchange rocket and rifle fire for about an hour in a confrontation at their border over the disputed Preah Vihear temple. At least two Cambodian soldiers are killed, and several soldiers from both sides are wounded.
: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a speech at the State Department urges ASEAN to do more in promoting democracy in Burma.
: The Philippines signs the ASEAN Charter.
: Vietnam and the U.S. conduct their first ever strategic dialogue in Hanoi, addressing political, security, defense, and humanitarian cooperation. The Vietnamese delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Phan Binh Minh, the U.S. by Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Mark Kimmitt.
: Shots are fired between Thai and Cambodian troops in the region near the temple of Preah Vihear, injuring three soldiers.
: Indiana University Law School’s Center for Constitutional Democracy initiates an investigation to determine if Burma’s military junta has committed war crimes against minority ethnic groups.
: Cambodia’s Parliament re-elects Hun Sen as prime minister, extending his 23-year tenure, at a session boycotted by parties disputing the results of the July general election.
: Burma’s military government announces the release of 9,002 prisoners, including the country’s longest-serving political prisoner, Win Tin, and four people elected to Parliament in the landslide victory of opposition parties in 1990.
: Thailand’s Parliament elects Somchai Wongsawat as prime minister.
: Thailand signs an agreement to join Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia in maritime patrols aimed at securing the Malacca Straits.
: Thailand’s Prime Minister Somchai says he is prepared to hold talks with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen to resolve the border dispute between the two countries.
: Secretary Negroponte urges Cambodia and Thailand to peacefully resolve their dispute bilaterally over the borderlands adjacent to the Preah Vihear Temple.
: Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte visits Cambodia to provide $24 million in health aid through NGOs. He also promises $1.8 million for the tribunal before which five remaining elderly Khmer Rouge leaders will be tried.
: Malaysia’s Ambassador to the U.S. is called to the State Department to explain the arrest of Malaysian citizens who had criticized the government on blog sites.
: U.S. Embassy, Manila spokesperson Thompson says U.S. forces will remain in the Philippines for training and assistance as long as the Philippine government requests.
: Thailand’s Supreme Court rules that Prime Minister Samak violated the Constitution by accepting payments for appearances on cooking shows while in office, forcing him to resign.
: U.S. Embassy, Manila spokesperson Rebecca Thompson states that no U.S. forces are in country permanently, nor are there U.S. bases on Philippine territory, though U.S. forces “come and go” at the invitation of the Philippine government.
: Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej declares a state of emergency in Bangkok to put down a running battle between supporters and opponents of the government.
: U.S. Army, Pacific (USARPAC) Commander Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon at a Pacific Armies Management Seminar in Indonesia says that America’s Asian partners “will continue to be a centerpiece of our engagement strategy in the theater.”
: Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Joseph Mussomeli suggests that ASEAN could help resolve the border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand over the 11th century Preah Vihear Temple.
: In collaboration with navies from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Brunei, the U.S. Navy conducts the annual Southeast Asia Cooperation against Terrorism (SEACAT) exercise – maritime cooperation against terrorism.
: U.S. Embassy, Jakarta objects to Indonesia’s permission for a Lebanon Hezbollah militia television channel to operate in Indonesia. The Department of Information and Communication says the TV channel is not violating any Indonesian regulations.
: In his National Day Speech, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warns that the city-state’s economy may be in for hard times because of U.S. financial problems that he does not expect see abate until well into 2009.
: In Bangkok for a speech on Asia policy, President Bush calls on Burma’s junta to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners.
: Mindanao peace talks collapse when the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front cancel the signing of a memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain.
: The Cambodian government accepts assistance from the FBI to investigate the July 11 murder of an opposition party-affiliated journalist.
: The annual U.S. Navy Cooperation Afloat and Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise begins in Brunei. Earlier CARAT exercises this year were held with the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia.
: Speaking to Asian reporters prior to his trip to the region, President Bush hails strong U.S. relations with ASEAN and pledges continued cooperation.
: The U.S. Treasury announces financial sanctions against ten gem trading companies that are owned or controlled by Burma’s government and whose revenues support the families of the junta’s leaders.
: A letter from 40 members of the U.S. Congress is sent to the Indonesian government asking it to release two convicted Papuan separatists who were sentenced in 2005 to 15 and 10 years respectively for flying the separatist Papuan flag.
: Secretary Rice urges Malaysia to be transparent and follow the rule of law in dealing with allegations that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim committed sodomy. Rice refers to the charge as a “human rights [and] political case.”
: Opening the ASEAN-U.S. dialogue, Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo states no major strategic issue in Asia can be resolved without the active participation of the U.S.
: Secretary of State Rice urges ASEAN countries to put more pressure on Burma to improve human rights, adopt democratic reforms, and free political prisoners.
: The U.S. Senate following the House of Representatives unanimously approves a bill banning the import of Burmese gemstones, thus expanding financial sanctions against the ruling military junta.
: At the ASEAN Regional Forum in Singapore, Secretary Rice urges Cambodia and Thailand to peacefully resolve their border dispute over the Preah Vihear Temple grounds.
: Singapore rejects the U.S. State Department assessment that it does not meet “minimum standards” of the U.S. Tracking Victims Protection Act of 2000. The main U.S. concern seems to be treatment of some of the 180,000 foreign domestic workers.
: Burma becomes the seventh member country to ratify the ASEAN Charter.
: A joint report by ASEAN, the UN, and Burma agrees that the country needs $1.2 billion in international aid over three years to continue relief and recovery efforts in the cyclone-devastated Irrawaddy Delta.
: The State Department expresses “serious concerns” over the arrest of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges.
: U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN Scot Marciel announces that Washington will exchange military attachés with Laos by year’s end.
: U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Cameron Hume says that travel to Indonesia is safe for foreign tourists as the U.S. lifts its travel warning despite the arrest of terrorist suspects in South Sumatra.
: Malaysia formally protests to the U.S. for interfering in its internal affairs when Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was accused of sodomy. The State Department earlier stated it would oppose any politically motivated prosecution.
: Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visits U.S. and meets President Bush.
: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visits the U.S. In addition to President Bush, she meets presidential candidates McCain and Obama.
: The U.S. hospital ship USNS Mercy visits Cam Ranh Bay Vietnam for a 10-day stay, treating hundreds of patients.
: Secretary of State Rice accuses the Burmese junta of backtracking on even the “modest steps” it had promised to meet regularly with Aung San Suu Kyi and to permit her to meet with her NLD colleagues.
: The U.S. State Department declares the Philippine’s Rajah Solamin Movement to be a terrorist group linked to Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya.
: The U.S. Supreme Court blocks the recovery of $35 million held by a U.S. brokerage firm for over 9,500 human rights victims of the Marcos era in the Philippines.
: A U.S. Navy helicopter from the medical ship USNS Mercy is hit by gunfire while on a humanitarian mission in Mindanao. Subsequently, the Mercy curtails its humanitarian mission and leaves for its next stop in the central part of the island country.
: The U.S. State Department backs the conclusion of a UN Human Rights Monitor that Burma’s draft constitution vote was far from credible and that political prisoners were being held in “appalling” conditions.
: U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey in Jakarta offers Washington’s support for the establishment of an Indonesian anti-corruption task force.
: U.S. Navy ships loaded with food, water, and medical supplies, after weeks of waiting, leave the area after the Burma government refused to permit them access.
: U.S. C-130s have delivered more than 2 million pounds of emergency relief supplies from Thailand to Rangoon by this date.
: The U.S. agrees to provide the Philippines with $15.5 million to help guard its southern maritime border against pirates, smugglers, and terrorists.
: In Bangkok, Secretary Gates expresses U.S. support for Thailand’s democratically elected government and says Washington would frown on any military coup attempt.
: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen visits Mindanao for the Balikitan exercises and meets Philippine Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano.
: Restoring military aid to Cambodia after a 10-year hiatus, the U.S. gives 31 used trucks to the country’s military.
: At the Singapore Shangri-La Dialogue, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates obliquely warns China not to pressure Southeast Asian claimants to South China Sea resources in Beijing’s quest for energy and says the U.S. will play an “enduring role” in Asia. Gates accuses Burma’s junta of “criminal neglect” in blocking large-scale international aid for cyclone victims and praises Malaysia for its role in protecting the Malacca Strait from piracy and terrorism.
: The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy begins a humanitarian medical service deployment in Indonesia.
: U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in an Indonesian visit offers to resume joint exercises between the two countries’ special forces that had been halted for several years.
: President Bush expresses outrage at Burma’s military junta’s decision to extend Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest for another year.
: U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN Marciel states the U.S. is prepared to offer more than the $20.5 million in aid already donated, contingent on access to the worst hit areas.
: Burma’s military rulers say foreign aid workers will be given visas to deliver assistance, but foreign military equipment and personnel are still prohibited. Only 25 percent of those in need have received any aid.
: Fifty U.S. military cargo flights have landed in Rangoon by this date. No other locations have been served.
: U.S. ASEAN envoy Marciel tells a Congressional hearing that swift aid access to cyclone-devastated areas in Burma is more important than the fundraising conference requested by the ruling junta.
: Burma’s government mouthpiece, The New Light of Myanmar, states that foreign donors are a greater threat than the cyclone and that the U.S. ships could be used to overthrow the government.
: Shari Villarosa, chief of the U.S. mission in Rangoon, flies over the Irrawaddy delta with Burma’s foreign minister by helicopter and states: “It was a show.”
: An additional four C-130 cargo planes land in Burma, the Rangoon authorities now permitting daily relief flights, but still no visas for relief agency personnel.
: U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe dismisses the Burmese constitution referendum, which the regime claims received a 92.4 percent approval.
: The White House announces an additional $13 million in aid to Burma for food and logistical assistance as cyclone relief.
: State Department officials state they are concerned that international relief goods are being sold by the junta on the local black market.
: Adm. Keating is on board the first U.S. relief flight to Rangoon, the first time in years a USPACOM commander has entered Burma. On the 13th, two more U.S. relief flights are permitted to land in Rangoon.
: Burma’s junta opens the polls for a referendum on a new constitution, which it says will pave the way for democratic elections in 2010. Pro-democracy campaigners say the ballot will be rigged and accuse the generals of trying to prolong their reign.
: The U.S. Ambassador to Thailand says that a U.S. disaster relief team is waiting in Thailand for visas to Burma.
: The U.S. head of mission in Burma says the country’s death toll could go to 100,000 from the cyclone and its aftermath.
: Secretary of State Rice urges Burma’s military government to admit disaster assistance from the international community.
: U.S. Secretary of State Rice says that Burma should consider foreign disaster relief as humanitarian and not political intervention.
: After a two-day delay, Burma allows the first aircraft load of UN-sponsored relief goods for victims of Cyclone Nargis into the country. However, workers from several international aid agencies are still not given visas to enter the country.
: U.S. and Thai troops stage Cobra Gold. This year’s annual joint military exercise takes place in northern Thailand, emphasizing peacekeeping and includes over 5,000 Thai and 6,000 U.S. forces plus small contingents from Singapore, Indonesia, and Japan.
: Tropical Cyclone Nargis strikes Burma, devastating much of the fertile Irrawaddy River delta and the nation’s major city, Rangoon.
: ASEAN trade ministers agree to help each other during the global food crisis and to take measures to maintain the stability of rice prices and boost production.
: President Bush issues executive order that instructs the Treasury to freeze the assets of Burmese “state-owned companies that are major sources of funds that prop up the junta.” The sanctions target companies and industries that produce timber, pearls, and gems.
: The Vietnamese government announces that it will end an adoption agreement with the U.S. amid accusations of corruption. A recent report from the U.S. embassy in Hanoi cited cases in which children had allegedly been sold and families pressured to give up their babies. Vietnam dismisses the claims as unfair.
: The U.S. Senate votes to award Aung San Suu Kyi the Congressional Gold Medal. The bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives December 2007, is passed unopposed in the Senate.
: Singapore Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong meets President Bush in the White House. The president describes Singapore as “a very strong ally” on the global war on terror.
: The U.S. appoints Scott Marciel as the first U.S. ambassador for ASEAN affairs. He also serves as deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific.
: USPACOM Commander Adm. Keating visits Indonesia and praises the latter’s military peacekeepers in the Lebanon UN force.
: U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney pledges U.S. rice exports to the Philippines to ensure supplies amid soaring commodity prices.
: Secretary Hill meets with his North Korean counterpart in Singapore.
: U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) Commander Adm. Timothy Keating visits Brunei and discusses anti-terrorist cooperation.
: Secretary Hill visits East Timor and praises the fledgling state’s ability to cope with the recent assassination attempts on President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
: A State Department spokesman accuses Burma’s ruling military junta of continuing “a climate of fear and repression” in arresting opposition activists.
: Singaporean Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam visits Washington for consultations with Treasury Secretary Paulson. The two countries, joined by Abu Dhabi, release a set of common policy principles for sovereign wealth funds, urging that SWF’s adopt voluntary best practices.
: The White House releases statement commemorating 175th anniversary of the U.S.-Thailand Treaty of Amity and Commerce, which established Thailand as the oldest treaty ally of the U.S. in Asia.
: Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama makes his first official visit to Washington in his new capacity.
: Thai PM Samak travels to Burma and meets Senior Gen. Than Shwe.
: Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds hearings on U.S.-Vietnam relations, with a strong emphasis on human rights.
: Malaysian elections enable the Barisan Nasional (BN) to retain power but show dramatic new inroads by opposition parties.
: UN Special Envoy for Burma Ibrahim Gambari makes third trip to Burma since the confrontation between the junta and Buddhist monks last year, which he reports produced “no tangible results;” he vows to continue his efforts.
: With the help of U.S. security forces, Thai police arrest Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout on suspicion of terrorism in a sting operation, in which Bout attempted to purchase millions of dollars worth of weapons for sale to the Columbian insurgent group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionaries (FARC).
: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia/Pacific Christopher Hill visits Thailand and Vietnam.
: Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinwatra returns to Thailand and, according to plan, is arrested on corruption charges and released on bail.
: Burmese government announces a new Constitutional Approval Law, with harsh penalties for political dissent.
: White House nominates Scot Marciel as first U.S. Ambassador for ASEAN affairs. The position is to be held concurrently with Marciel’s present role as deputy assistant secretary of state for Southeast Asia.
: U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visits Indonesia as part of a multi-region tour of U.S. security partners that includes Australia, India, and Turkey.
: USAID and the ASEAN Secretariat announce their new joint effort, the ASEAN Vision to Advance National Cooperation and Economic Integration (ADVANCE) to promote development of an ASEAN Community by 2015.
: U.S. Appeals Court in New York rejects the request of the Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) to reverse the lower court’s dismissal of VAVA’s class action lawsuit against 30 American chemical companies that manufactured Agent Orange and other herbicides used in the Vietnam War.
: ASEAN foreign ministers hold retreat in Singapore to discuss further regional integration.
: U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney holds unprecedented secret meeting with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.
: The 24th annual US-Philippine Balikatan exercises open in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.
: Amnesty International issues an open letter to ASEAN foreign ministers urging them to move quickly to implement Article 14 of the new ASEAN Charter, which calls for the establishment of a regional human rights body.
: Philippine security officials announce they have uncovered an assassination plot against President Gloria Arroyo by groups linked to Al-Qaeda. Some in the Manila political community express skepticism given the timing of anti-Arroyo rallies planned for the next day.
: U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Asia, Pacific and the Global Environment holds hearings on “United States and Cambodia: Bilateral Relations and Bilateral Debt.”
: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi dissolves Parliament in preparation for snap elections.
: Rebel forces in Timor Leste critically wound President Jose Ramos-Horta in an attack in which rebel leader Alfredo Reinado is killed by Horta’s guards. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao escapes harm.
: The State Department issues strong criticism of Burmese military regime, maintaining the plans for a constitutional referendum and subsequent elections are “further evidence of [the junta’s] refusal to pursue a meaningful and time-bound dialogue with Burma’s democratic and ethnic minority representatives.”
: Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte certifies to Congress that a democratically elected government has taken office in Thailand, enabling the Bush administration to remove legal restrictions on assistance to the Thai government applied after the September 2006 coup.
: Under targeted sanctions laws passed in late 2007 in the wake of the crackdown in Burma, the Bush administration adds nine new individuals and their companies to the sanctions list.
: FBI Director Robert Mueller visits Vietnam and Cambodia.
: Samak Sundaravej, leader of the People’s Power Party, is inaugurated as Thai prime minister and leader of a broad coalition of parties.
: Former Indonesian President Suharto dies, sparking a public mourning period but little political disturbance.
: Lionsgate Productions releases Rambo 4, in which the mercenary played by Sylvester Stallone turns his attentions to the plight of Karen guerillas in Burma.
: Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte cancels a planned visit to Vietnam after the U.S.-China Security Dialogue due to protracted winter storm in China.
: Singaporean Defense Minister Teo Chee Hean visits Washington.
: Malaysia and the U.S. resume discussions on a bilateral free trade agreement, after nearly a year’s hiatus.
: The People Power Party claims victory in the first Thai elections since a 2006 military coup, but its share of votes fell short of an absolute majority, making a coalition government a necessity.
: Forty-eight U.S. senators from both parties urge President Bush to push the UN Security Council to impose an international arms embargo on the Burmese military junta.
: U.S. House of Representatives votes unanimously to award the Congressional Gold Medal – the highest American civilian award–to Burma democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
: Adm. Keating visits Laos to talk with foreign and defense ministry officials on cooperative defense relations.
: The U.S., Singapore, and Thai Air Forces hold the opening phase of the annual Cope Tiger exercise in Singapore. The second phase which will involve flying exercises will be held in Thailand from Jan. 27- Feb. 5.
: U.S. Pacific Commander Adm. Timothy Keating leads a delegation to Vietnam at the invitation of the deputy chief of the Vietnam Peoples Army.
: President Bush threatens to impose new sanctions on Burma if the military regime continues to ignore calls for a democratic transition and release political prisoners, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest.
: First Lady Laura Bush speaking on International Human Rights Day calls on Burma’s military junta to step aside if it is unwilling to bring about a democratic transformation.
: U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Joseph Mussomeli and UN human rights representative Yash Ghai join 500 local rights activists in a march calling for an end to corruption.
: Undersecretary of State Burns visits Singapore to discuss regional and global issues with top government leaders, underlining the city-state’s important role.
: Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Stephan Mull visits Vietnam and states that the U.S. is helping improve the Vietnam army’s capacities in relief and rescue and international peace keeping. He also discusses counter-terror cooperation and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
: U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Robert Willard, in Singapore, praises the “excellent defense relationship” between the two states.
: The USS Essex arrives in Sihanoukville, the second U.S. warship to visit Cambodia this year. The crew conducts medical and dental clinics as well as trains with the Cambodian military.
: USTR Schwab meets Cambodia’s minister of commerce to discuss deepening trade and investment relations.
: USTR Schwab meets ASEAN economic ministers in Singapore to discuss progress under the U.S.-ASEAN Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
: U.S. Senate unanimously passes a resolution urging ASEAN to suspend Burma’s membership for human rights violations.
: The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi announces $1 million in aid to help Vietnam in the aftermath of heavy floods in the central provinces.
: Two U.S. warships dock in Haiphong, the first to visit northern Vietnam since the end of the Second Indochina War in 1975.
: Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez meets Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyn Tan Dung in Hanoi for three days of talks on expanding trade ties. Executives from major U.S. corporations accompanied Secretary Gutierrez.
: The Bush administration sharply criticizes the Burmese military junta’s decision to expel Charles Petrie, the UN’s top resident diplomat, from the country after he issued a statement urging the junta to heed the voices of the protestors.
: Singapore is doubling its air force fighter fleet by buying 12 F-15s.
: Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte states China and India should suspend arms sales to Burma over its political repression.
: U.S. Chargé in Cambodia Piper Campbell states that offshore oil and gas deposits provide great potential, but managing these resources is a problem given the country’s corruption.
: President Bush expands financial sanctions on Burma’s leadership to an additional 14 high-level officials, while the Commerce Department blocks technology sales with dual-use capabilities.
: Talon Vision 2007, a land- and sea-based exercise, and the concurrent Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHILBEX) are held to facilitate military interoperability between the U.S. and the Philippines. Bilateral medical and dental clinics and civic action projects were a major part of these exercises.
: Undersecretary of State Burns calls on Burma to release all political prisoners and refrain from further violence against the civilian population.
: While in Honolulu for a State Department conference, Villarosa says that Burma’s people “need the support of the international community.”
: U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne visits Singapore.
: U.S. Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad, speaking before the UNSC, excoriates the Burmese junta for its suppression of peacefully protesting monks and civilians and warns the U.S. might propose a new UNSC resolution increasing sanctions.
: The U.S. Chargé in Burma, Shari Villarosa, is invited to the new capital, Naypyidaw, to meet junta members.
: First Lady Laura Bush urges the junta in Burma to “step aside” and calls for a UNSC resolution calling for a peaceful transition to democracy.
: The U.S. Senate passes a bipartisan resolution calling on Burma’s ruling junta to begin dialog with opposition ethnic groups and the National League for Democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
: UN special envoy Gambari extends his stay and travels to Naypyidaw with the hope of meeting Gen. Than Shwe.
: UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari arrives in Burma on what the UN secretary general calls an “urgent mission” to broker negotiations between the military government and the pro-democracy opposition.
: The military junta in Burma cracks down on protestors. Reports on the number of casualties vary widely from the official government figures of nine as the junta closes down telephone access to the country.
: President Bush announces in an address to the UN General Assembly new economic and diplomatic sanctions against the leaders of Burma’s military junta and its financial supporters. He also calls on other members of the UN to join the U.S. in forcing change in Burma.
: Thousands of monks and supporters including students gather in Rangoon. Meanwhile, the government moves military forces into positions around the city, bans gatherings of more than five people, orders a dusk to dawn curfew in both Rangoon and Mandalay, and places both cities under the control of the local military commanders for 60 day.
: U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce states that Washington has no plans to closely monitor the forthcoming December Thai elections, but would observe the elections in the same way it has in the past.
: Six Burmese labor activists are sentenced up to 28 years in prison for organizing a seminar at the U.S. embassy last May.
: President Bush meets Philippine President Macapagal Arroyo prior to the Sydney APEC conference to discuss counter-terrorism and U.S. military assistance.
: President Bush hosts a lunch meeting for all ASEAN leaders attending APEC, as a substitute for the U.S.-ASEAN summit he canceled. At the luncheon, the president announces he intends to appoint an ambassador to the grouping.
: U.S. and Malaysian defense intelligence chiefs convene a 19-country conference on Asian anti-terrorist intelligence cooperation in Kuala Lumpur.
: U.S. State Department dismisses Burma’s new constitution as a sham because the national convention was made up of the junta’s hand-picked delegates.
: U.S. Ambassador to APEC Patricia Hasloch asserts Southeast Asia’s continued importance despite Secretary Rice’s absence from the ARF earlier this month and Bush’s decision to leave the Sydney APEC meeting before its conclusion next week.
: A U.S. Congressional delegation visits Vietnam and discusses enhanced trade, investment, and public health concerns.
: Scot Marciel, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia, urges Thailand not to exclude anyone from running in its forthcoming national election, including those who oppose the coup leaders.
: A State Department spokesman calls on Burma’s junta to release 13 democracy advocates arrested for protesting the regime’s human rights violations and the arbitrary doubling of fuel prices.
: Speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives, Agung Laksono, requests through the new U.S. ambassador, Cameron R. Hume, that the U.S. to lift its weapons embargo and travel warning for Indonesia.
: USPACOM and Indonesia co-host the “Pacific Airlift Rally 2007” that includes 21 countries focusing on dealing with natural disasters.
: A referendum to approve a new constitution for Thailand, which paves the way for elections in December, is passed with 57.8 percent of the votes in favor.
: Navies from the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the U.S. hold the sixth annual anti-terrorism Southeast Asian Cooperation against Terrorism (SEACAT) exercise.
: The U.S. Navy concludes a CARAT exercise with Brunei’s navy, involving a U.S. ship and two Brunei vessels in boarding and search and rescue maneuvers.
: U.S. Marines from the Special Operations Training Group conduct marksmanship training with Indonesian Marines at their camp as well as aboard the USS Harpers Ferry as part of the bilateral Naval Engagement Activity, Indonesia 2007.
: U.S. and Indonesian navies conduct an exercise on disaster response.
: Secretary Negroponte praises ASEAN’s proposed Charter, its human rights commission, and strengthened democratic values at the Manila ASEAN post-ministerial conference.
: Secretary Negroponte attends the 14th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference held in Manila as the designated U.S. envoy to the ARF. He reaffirms that the U.S. would remain strongly engaged in the region and that ASEAN ties are a “critical component” of U.S. dealings with East Asia.
: Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte holds bilateral talks in the Philippines prior to the ASEAN meetings.
: The USS Peleliu, operating as part of the Navy’s Pacific Partnership Program leaves Vietnam after a 10-day humanitarian visit where medical and dental personnel treated 3,500 patients in areas around Danang.
: U.S. repatriates the head of an Angkor-era sculpture that had been stolen and smuggled from Cambodia. The U.S. and Cambodia have an agreement to protect Cambodia’s cultural heritage.
: The U.S. extends political and economic sanctions for another year in Burma for continued human rights violations. The sanctions have been in place since 2003.
: Indonesian and U.S. Air Forces begin a 10-day Teak Iron joint exercise involving cargo drops and paratroops.
: The U.S.-based World Food Prize Foundation awards Thai King Bhumibol the first Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Medallion for his “great contributions to feeding people and enhancing human life.”
: Burmese military leader Brig. Gen. Kyaw San states that his country wants to work with the U.S. for mutual benefit.
: TheWhite House confirms President Bush has postponed his September trip to the ASEAN summit in Singapore, but expects to meet Southeast Asian leaders later in the year.
: U.S. lead trade negotiator for Southeast Asia Barbara Weisel tells reporters in Kuala Lumpur that the U.S. expects free trade talks with Malaysia by June 2008.
: The U.S., India, Japan, Australia, and Singapore announce plans for a large-scale joint naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal to be held in September. China responds by asking for a clarification of the purpose of the exercise.
: The U.S. Navy ship USS Peleliu leaves the Philippines after providing medical and civic action services, the first stop on a four-month, five-country humanitarian visit in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.
: ASEAN-USPTO (U.S. Patent and Trade Office) Workshop for Intellectual Property Enforcement Officials, Public Health Officials, and Agricultural Officials on Intellectual Property Enforcement is held in Bangkok.
: President Bush postpones the U.S.-ASEAN summit originally scheduled for Singapore in September “for scheduling reasons.”
: The U.S.-Malaysian navies CARAT exercise takes place with at-sea war fighting, safety, and boarding, search and seizure practice. Onshore activities include humanitarian medical aid and civilian construction activities.
: Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Timothy Keating visits the Philippines for high-level military and political discussions.
: A U.S. Navy delegation led by Adm. Mike Mullen, Chief of Naval Operations, visits Vietnam for talks with the Vietnam Navy High Command.
: Vietnam’s President Nguyen Minh Triet visits the U.S., emphasizing enhanced economic relations but encounters human rights concerns in Congress.
: The two top leaders of the Southeast Asia al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah are apprehended by the elite U.S.-trained Detachment 88 of the Indonesian National Police, significantly weakening the terrorist group’s leadership.
: State Department releases its 2006 Human Trafficking Report which blacklists Malaysia (with a Tier Three designation) for the first time for failing to prevent thousands of young women and children from falling victim. The Philippines is also listed as not fully complying with minimum protection standards.
: Indonesia and the Hawaii National Guard announce an agreement to collaborate on non-lethal equipment maintenance and disaster relief operations.
: Vietnam release Nguyen Vu Binh, a prominent government critic, before the trip of President Nguyen Minh Triet to the U.S.
: Through its Rewards for Justice Program, the U.S. pays out over $10 million to four former Abu Sayyaf terrorist group members who provided information that led to the death of two top Abu Sayyaf leaders in Sulu.
: Laos commends the U.S. for arresting Hmong leader Vang Pao and eight others for plotting to overthrow the Lao government.
: Gen. Peter Pace visits Kuala Lumpur to discuss cooperation between the two countries’ militaries. He also addresses students at the Malaysia Armed Forces Staff College.
: Defense Secretary Gates meets Singapore PM Lee to discuss bilateral defense cooperation and regional security. Gates expressed appreciation for Singapore’s reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan.
: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnel, PACOM head Adm. Timothy Keating, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace attend the annual Shangri-La Dialogue of Asian-Pacific defense and foreign affairs officials in Singapore.
: U.S.-Philippine naval CARAT exercise begins in the Muslim militant region of Basilan. Some 1400 U.S. forces are participating with a focus on anti-terrorism, counter-smuggling, and humanitarian activities.
: A U.S. maritime training ship, Golden Bear, docks in central Vietnam to distribute medical supplies as prelude to a training agreement between the California Maritime Academy and the Vietnam Maritime University.
: Visiting Washington, top U.S. diplomat in Burma Shari Villarosa states that the new constitution being drafted in that country is a sham meant to solidify the military’s power once a supposedly civilian government takes over.
: At an Indonesian press conference, Assistant Secretary Hill states that the U.S. seeks to expand training and joint operations with Indonesian armed forces. He denied allegations in Indonesia that the U.S. contributed funds to President Yudhoyono’s 2004 election.
: The White House expresses concern over the arrest of political dissidents in Vietnam, saying the detentions were out of character for the country’s modernization.
: Assistant Secretary Hill meets Vietnam President Nguyen Minh Triet.
: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill on a Southeast Asia visit urges Burma to free Nobel laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. However, the Burmese junta extended her house arrest for another year.
: The State Department expresses concern over the prospect of a Russian deal to provide a nuclear research reactor for Burma which has “neither the regulatory nor the legal framework or safeguard provisions” to handle a nuclear program.
: Bangkok announces that former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s foundation had negotiated deep price reductions for generic versions of these products that will particularly benefit Thailand and Brazil.
: Annual Thai-U.S. Cobra Gold exercises begin in Pattaya. Of a total of almost 5,000 personnel, 1,900 are from the U.S. with smaller contingents from Singapore, Japan, and Indonesia. Cobra Gold is the largest U.S.-led multilateral exercise in Asia.
: Speaking at the 116th Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in Bali, Malaysia calls upon the U.S. to leave Iraq and stop being the “world’s policeman.”
: The United States announces it will donate 11 Vietnam War-era UH-11 “Huey” helicopters to the Philippine military to help fight communist and Muslim rebels, according to the chief of the Philippine air force.
: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s U.S. visit includes Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.
: State Department’s annual terrorism report says Cambodia is vulnerable to a terrorist presence because of weak law enforcement and corruption.
: U.S. rewards two Filipino informants $85,000 for providing information leading to the deaths of two leaders of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.
: In its annual report, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative expresses concern over Thailand’s enforcement of intellectual property rights with a particular emphasis on generic drugs.
: Some 120 Philippine and 50 U.S. soldiers begin a three-month anti-terrorism exercise in Mindanao.
: U.S.-based East Timor human rights organization condemns the participation of Indonesian Maj. Gen. Noer Muis in a joint “command post” exercise with the U.S. military. Muis has been indicted for crimes against humanity in East Timor.
: Lt. Gen. Daniel Leaf, deputy commander of PACOM, visits Hanoi to discuss cooperation potential with Vietnamese military officials.
: Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, meeting with Cambodian National Police Commissioner Gen. Hok Lundy, urges the Cambodian police to combat trafficking in persons, a serious problem in Cambodia.
: Two Indonesian citizens are sentenced to more than a year in U.S. federal prison for conspiracy to smuggle sophisticated military devices to the Indonesian military. They will be deported upon completion of their sentences.
: The Indonesian Army and U.S. Army in the Pacific agree to create joint training at brigade level for UN peace operations. Indonesian troops coming from this program would replace troops assigned to the UN Peace Operation in Lebanon.
: About 80 U.S. soldiers are in Indonesia for Garuda Shield 2007, a joint exercise with Indonesian forces that signifies the resumption of brigade-level, army-to-army exercises that had been terminated in 1999. Washington restored full military relations with Indonesia in 2005.
: The Fifth Indonesia-U.S. Security Dialogue takes place in Jakarta with both sides committing to strengthen cooperation.
: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is quoted in The Wall Street Journal urging the U.S. to refocus on Asia or risk losing influence to China.
: U.S. Special Operations commander for the Pacific Maj. Gen. David Fridovich states that his troops, if asked, are prepared to train Thai forces in counterinsurgency. Fridovich cited rising violence in southern Thailand. Thai Army Commander Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin declines the offer.
: The U.S. government advises its citizens not to use Indonesian airlines after a series of deadly accidents this year.
: Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono visits the Pentagon.
: New PACOM Commander Adm. Timothy Keating in Malaysia praises vastly improved security in the Malacca Strait and says sharing maritime security information is an important U.S. goal.
: Counterterrorist officials from throughout Asia gather in Honolulu to compare experiences in fighting Islamist terrorism. They agree that much terrorist funding comes from Saudi Arabia.
: Philippine National Police Deputy Director Avelino Razon, Jr. assures a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee delegation that his country has “strong resolve” to uphold human rights amid the spate of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines.
: Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudharsono asks that the United States consider providing training to Indonesia’s Special Forces.
: Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz leads a delegation to the U.S. to urge U.S. firms to set up service-based operations in Malaysia, a country with “a well-developed infrastructure, relatively low cost of doing business, as well as an educated and multilingual workforce.”
: U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Marine and visiting U.S. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez criticize the physical prevention of wives of Vietnamese dissidents from visiting the ambassador’s Hanoi residence.
: U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee delegation visits Vietnam to discuss the search for MIA remains.
: First U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer program to Cambodia officially begins with 28 U.S. volunteers who will be teaching English in villages in six provinces.
: At a DoD hearing to determine “enemy combatant” status, Southeast Asian Jemaah Islamiyah leader, Hambali, held at Guantanamo, denies that he was an al-Qaeda member.
: The U.S. amends its International Traffic in Arms regulations to permit the sale of non-lethal defense equipment to Vietnam on a case-by-case basis.
: A Burmese student who taught English at the American Center in Rangoon is released after three months in jail. He had been arrested after accepting a U.S. Embassy offer to visit the U.S. and accused of being involved in a U.S.-sponsored political training program in Washington.
: U.S. Seventh Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge arrives in Jakarta for a port visit.
: Direct U.S. government aid to Cambodia is resumed following a 10-year ban imposed when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ousted Prince Norodom Rannaridh in a coup. Lifting the ban is the most recent indicator of improved government relations.
: The U.S. announces that the multilateral Cobra Gold annual military exercise will take place in Thailand May 8-18 since the Thai military Council for National Security has lifted martial law in 41 provinces.
: U.S. and Filipino soldiers begin Balikatan, a series of joint military exercises on war-torn Jolo island in the Philippine south. This year, the exercises focus on humanitarian missions in local villages. The annual Balikatan assists the Philippines in building counter-terrorist capacity.
: Adm. William Fallon, former PACOM commander and new commander of CENTCOM, states he would seek support from Indonesia and Malaysia in the Afghan and Iraq conflicts, though he did not specify what kind.
: The Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace meets Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to discuss ways of improving the military partnership between the two countries’ armed forces.
: In a change of policy, the U.S. announces it will clean up a site – Danang air base – where Agent Orange and other chemicals were stored during the Vietnam War. U.S. Ambassador Michael Marine acknowledges this is a small step but “a marked improvement on our ability to work together on this issue.”
: The USS Gary docks in Sihanoukville, the first U.S. Navy ship to visit Cambodia in more than 30 years. A first step in expanding U.S.-Cambodian military ties, the ship visit is seen as a response to China’s growing influence.
: USS Blue Ridge, the Seventh Fleet’s flagship, arrives in the Philippines on a humanitarian mission including medical clinics and repair of schools and public buildings.
: Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad convenes a “war crimes tribunal” in Malaysia to hear complaints against the U.S., Britain, and Israel for “crimes against humanity” in Iraq and Palestine.
: USAID announces that it is cutting aid to Cambodia by over 50 percent to $2 million and reallocating it from antihuman trafficking to good governance. Human trafficking results from poverty which, in turn, is linked to poor governance, according to an AID official who explained the shift.
: Indonesia announces that the U.S. has given Jakarta permission to interview Hambali, a notorious Southeast Asian al-Qaeda operative, who was captured in Thailand in 2003. Hambali is being held in Guantanamo; Indonesia has wanted access to him ever since his capture.
: The U.S. Peace Corps inaugurates its first mission to Cambodia since the Corps inception in 1962. Thirty U.S. English teachers will spread out to rural provinces after a few months in Phnom Penh for Khmer language and cultural training.
: U.S., Thai, and Singapore Air Forces conduct Cope Thunder air exercise from Korat, Thailand with 113 aircraft and 1,300 personnel. Cope Thunder is an annual exercise that began in 1994.
: Under Secretary Hughes congratulates the Philippine armed forces for killing two Abu Sayyaf leaders. The U.S. offered $10 million for the capture or killing of Khaddaffy Janjalani and Abu Sulaiman. President Bush followed up with a congratulatory phone call to Philippine President Arroyo.
: Burma’s military junta accuses the U.S. of plotting to install a puppet government in the country.
: U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes arrives in the Philippines for a three day visit where she will go to Sulu. The annual Balikatan exercise will emphasize humanitarian activities.
: Philippine President Arroyo credits “our strategic relationship with the United States” for the successful campaign against the Abu Sayyaf in the Sulu Archipelago.
: U.S. Commander of the Pacific Fleet Adm. Gary Roughead visits Vietnam and announces that the U.S. and Vietnamese navies will engage in search and rescue exercises as part of the new relationship between them.
: U.S. DNA tests confirm that a body found in the southern Philippines is that of Abu Sayyaf militant leader Khadaffy Janjalani. His second in command, Abu Sulaiman who kidnapped three Americans and 17 Filipinos in 2001, was also killed in recent encounters with U.S.-trained Philippine forces.
: The U.S. Embassy in Manila denies a Philippine press report that U.S. forces are fighting al-Qaeda-linked guerrillas in the southern Philippines in violation of the Philippine Constitution. The embassy insists that U.S. forces serve exclusively in a training and advisory capacity.
: Former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Charles Ray in a Phnom Penh talk states the country must move against rampant corruption and labor abuses if it hopes to attract the external investment needed for development. Banks are untrustworthy because the justice system is so weak.
: China and Russia veto the U.S. resolution before the UN Security Council condemning Burma’s human rights violations, arguing that although Beijing and Moscow condemn the military junta’s political tyranny, it does not threaten regional security, and, therefore, should not be a UNSC concern.
: The U.S. Trade and Development Agency confers the 2006 Country of the Year honor on Vietnam, marking Hanoi’s official admission to the WTO. The honor acknowledges Vietnam’s serious commitments to revamping its investment regulations and liberalizing the financial sector.
: The U.S. introduces a draft resolution in the UN Security Council calling on the Burmese government to engage the opposition in “substantive political dialogue,” cease continued attacks “in ethnic minority regions on civilians,” and “desist immediately from the systematic use of rape on women and girls as an instrument of armed conflict.”
: Philippine President Gloria Arroyo authorizes transfer of a U.S. Marine convicted of rape back to U.S. Embassy custody. The U.S. announced it would proceed with military exercises with Philippine forces that had been cancelled when a Philippine judge refused to return the marine to U.S. custody pending an appeal, a violation of the Visiting Forces Agreement.
: Philippine judge relents and returns the marine to U.S. custody.
: Pacific Commander Adm. William J. Fallon declares that the U.S. armed forces could not accept a Philippine judge’s decision to keep the convicted marine in a Philippine jail in violation of the VFA.
: The Aceh provincial and district heads election is being monitored by an official 40-member U.S. team that will visit all polling stations.
: Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush dines with King Bhumibol to honor his 60 years on the Thai throne.
: U.S. Congress gives final approval to a bill providing Vietnam with normal trade relations with the U.S.
: A day before the Philippines postpones the ASEAN Cebu summit because of a hurricane heading toward Cebu City, intelligence about possible terrorist attacks leads the U.S. and other embassies to warn their citizens to avoid travel to Cebu.
: New Marine Police Training Facility built with U.S. funds opens in Jakarta. It focuses on training marine police to deal with maritime security and transnational crime.
: In a notorious rape trial in the Philippines that became a test for the U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement, a U.S. Marine is convicted and three others acquitted. Sentenced to 40 years, he became the first U.S. soldier convicted of wrongdoing since the Philippines shut down U.S. bases in 1992.
: U.S. AID provides $250,000 in cash assistance to Philippine families affected by Super Typhoon Reming. AID is providing additional funds to relief organizations assisting areas hit by the Super Typhoon.
: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton on a visit to Thailand urges its military rulers to restore democracy quickly after their September coup. President Clinton was touring Southeast Asia to examine post-tsunami recovery.
: Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz urges U.S. business people in Chicago to invest in several new Malaysian growth areas for which the government has pledged $100 million to build infrastructure.
: President Bush spends six hours in Indonesia and meets President Yudhoyono, speaking about education and health aid while thousands of protestors are kept away from the meeting site in Bogor.
: President Bush meets leaders of the seven ASEAN members of APEC on the sidelines of the conference.
: President Bush expresses “understanding” of Thailand’s political situation. In a separate meeting with President Arroyo, the Philippine leader calls for a “deeper and broader” U.S. role in Philippine counterterrorism.
: President Bush meets General Secretary of the Vietnam Communist Party, Nang Duc Manh as the 14th APEC summit gets underway.
: President Bush arrives in Singapore to begin a five-day Asian tour that includes the APEC summit in Hanoi and a six-hour stop in Indonesia.
: Secretary Rice broaches prospect of a Pacific free trade zone stretching from China to Chile if WTO talks fail. The proposal was made at the APEC summit.
: The State Department removes Vietnam from its list of nations that severely violate religious freedom.
: The U.S. officially welcomes Vietnam into the World Trade Organization for which it initially applied nearly 12 years ago.
: U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney states that the U.S. is satisfied with the conduct of a trial for four U.S. marines charged with rape. Kenney said the trial showed that the Philippine-U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement worked and requires no revision.
: A member of deposed Philippine President Joseph Estrada’s inner circle who fled to the U.S. after being charged with corruption six years ago is extradited to face criminal prosecution in Manila. Charlie Ang allegedly ran a protection racket for gamblers at the behest of Estrada.
: The SS Wilson, a U.S.-flagged chartered ship, leaves Indonesia with equipment for Indonesia’s peacekeeping forces bound for Lebanon – an instance of cooperation between the Indonesian and U.S. militaries.
: 700 Indonesian Muslims rally outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta protesting the forthcoming visit of President Bush.
: State Department spokesman Sean McCormack welcomes PRC Premier Wen Jiabao’s proposal for increased military cooperation with ASEAN as “part of a broader dialogue on common security issues.” The State Department greeted the Chinese offer as a move to “increase transparency and promote stability.”
: During the Philippine-U.S. biannual Talon Vision and Amphibious Landing Exercise in Luzon in which 5,700 U.S. marines and sailors from Okinawa participated, Philippine forces receive training in explosive ordnance control using remote control robots Americans have developed in Iraq.
: Secretary Rice using her discretionary authority allows Chin minority refugees from Burma into the U.S. even though they fought against the government of Burma – an apparent violation of the 2001 U.S. Patriot Act.
: In a speech at Southern Methodist University, Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew urges the U.S. to stay the course in Iraq because successful liberalization in the Arab world will positively affect Southeast Asian Muslims.
: U.S. marines on a humanitarian mission in Mindanao rescue three Filipino fishermen whose boat had capsized.
: U.S. and Philippine forces engage in amphibious exercises.
: Indonesia’s military denies any link to four Indonesians, including a retired general, charged in the U.S. with conspiring to export arms to Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka and to customers in Indonesia.
: Newly appointed interim Thai prime minister, retired Gen. Surayud Chulamont, meets U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce to reassure him that there will be a democratically elected government in the future. The U.S. has suspended $24 million in military aid in the wake of the Sept. 19 coup that ousted Prime Minister Thaksin.
: Washington suspends $24 million in military assistance to Thailand.
: Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla visits the U.S. to encourage more foreign investment in his country, particularly in mineral resources.
: A bloodless military coup ousts Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra while he is in New York for the UN General Assembly. The U.S. regrets the lapse in democratic procedures and hopes for the restoration of democracy.
: UN Security Council schedules a formal review of the situation in Burma for shortly after Sept. 19.
: Thailand denies it hosted a secret detention center for the U.S. CIA to hold high level al-Qaeda prisoners after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
: John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the UN, asks the Security Council to place Burma on its agenda to discuss human rights and the lack of democracy.
: The Mercy completes a five-month humanitarian mission in Southeast Asia during which medical and dental services were provided to thousands in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and East Timor. Mercy staff also provided medical education and civil engineering projects.
: U.S. Pacific Command and Indonesia’s armed forces sign a Terms of Reference to increase defense cooperation in Education, Intelligence, Training, and Logistics.
: U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy ends a six-week humanitarian mission in Indonesia, conducting surgeries, primary and emergency health care. Mercy personnel also trained Indonesian paramedics and saw thousands of patients.
: U.S. and ASEAN sign Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (not a treaty). The document promises better protection for U.S. intellectual property. The U.S. has complained about inadequate protection for films and computer software.
: A two-day labor dialogue between Vietnam and the U.S. takes place in Washington where U.S.-funded projects on job creation, people with disabilities, child labor, and HIV/AIDS in the workplace are reviewed.
: U.S. Ambassador-at-large for Religious Freedom John Hanford visits Vietnam.
: Philippine and U.S. Navies engage in a CARAT exercise involving 8,000 Philippine marines and 2,000 U.S. personnel. The exercise includes counterterror and transnational crime scenarios.
: At a Singapore National Day reception, deputy U.S. treasury secretary announces plans by the Bush administration to seek the appointment of a U.S. ambassador to ASEAN.
: Philippine Senate Agriculture Committee sends a declaration to the U.S. attorney general opposing former Philippine Agriculture Secretary Jocelyn Bolante’s application for political asylum in the United States. The declaration states that Bolante fled the Philippines to avoid prosecution for the “plunder of public funds.”
: U.S. and Brunei Navy ships begin a CARAT exercise emphasizing interdiction of maritime crime and terrorists.
: Thousands gather in front of the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta to protest U.S. support for Israel in its fight with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, but President Yudhoyono rejects calls for Indonesia to send militants to fight against Israel.
: President Bush renews economic sanctions against Burma for continued human rights violations.
: Malaysia and the U.S. sign a criminal investigation agreement to combat terrorism and corruption on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting.
: Hundreds of anti-Israeli demonstrators from the youth wing of Malaysia’s ruling UMNO party storm the convention center where the ARF was meeting, insisting on talking with Secretary Rice to halt Israel’s aggression against Lebanon. Police held the demonstrators back.
: Secretary Rice praises ASEAN for the “important evolution” of its policy in dealing with Burma, especially the need for the junta to make political reforms and release Ann Sang Suu Kyi from house arrest.
: On the sidelines of the ARF meeting, Secretary Rice meets Vietnamese Foreign Minister Khiem and reiterates the Bush administration’s support for permanent normal trade relations.
: The U.S. and ASEAN initial a five-year action plan to boost trade and investment ties as well as counter-terrorism and the fight against HIV/AIDs.
: Philippines awarded a $21 million anti-corruption program grant under the U.S. Millenium Challenge Account Threshold Program.
: 10 ASEAN foreign ministers and Secretary Rice sign a framework document to implement the 2005 ASEAN-U.S. Enhanced Partnership.
: Malaysian Foreign Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tells Secretary Rice to have the U.S. use its influence to broker immediate ceasefires in Lebanon and Gaza.
: Michael Ray Aquino, a former Philippine National Police officer, pleads guilty in U.S. federal court to unauthorized possession of U.S. defense documents.
: U.S. and Malaysian navies begin a 10-day CARAT exercise involving some 3,000 personnel. The exercise includes land and sea combat and rescue.
: U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mullins visits Singapore and underscores the longstanding cooperation between the two navies.
: The Philippine and U.S. militaries agree to conduct joint military exercises under the newly formed Security Engagement Board. The new Board focuses on nontraditional security threats such as terrorism.
: Pacific Commander Adm. Fallon pays an introductory visit to Cambodia.
: The U.S. Navy hospital ship, Mercy, completes a six-day humanitarian mission on Indonesia’s Nios island. Thousands of patients were treated on shipboard and on shore. NGOs from several countries worked with the Mercy medical staff.
: U.S. Pacific Commander Adm. William Fallon begins a four-day visit to Vietnam for military and security discussions, his first in his current post.
: Indonesian and U.S. Navies began their annual CARAT exercises to enhance bilateral cooperation. The 2006 CARAT exercises began in Singapore in June and were followed by Thailand and then Indonesia. Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines will follow before the exercises conclude in August.
: Some 1,000 protestors from the Islamist PAS party march on the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur protesting Israeli incursions into Gaza and U.S. support for Israel.
: Some 10,000 Indonesians mass in front of the U.S. Embassy to condemn Israel’s offensive into the Gaza Strip and Israeli arrests of Palestinian officials. The protestors come from the Muslim-oriented Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).
: Two U.S. Navy ships dock at Ho Chi Minh City, the first time that two U.S. vessels have called at the same time and the fourth U.S. Navy visit to Vietnam since the war ended in 1975.
: U.S. UN Ambassador John Bolton questions the need for UN peacekeeping forces in Timor-Leste as recommended by Secretary General Kofi Annan. Bolton claimed the fight in Timor-Leste was “among politicians with rival security forces” and did not require a UN role. Australia currently leads a multinational intervention with support from Malaysia and New Zealand among others. Subsequently, the U.S. voted to extend the UN peacekeeping presence.
: The U.S. hospital ship Mercy ends its Philippine stay and continues its five-month deployment to bring medical and humanitarian assistance to Southeast Asia.
: ASEAN Secretary General Ong Keng Yong says the emerging East Asian community will not exclude the U.S. even as China seeks a larger role in Southeast Asia.
: Jemaah Islamiyah spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir is released from a Jakarta jail after serving 26 months for criminal conspiracy relating to the 2002 Bali and 2003 Marriott bombings.
: Vietnamese parliamentarians visit the U.S. to lobby Congress in support of Permanent Normal Trade Relations.
: The first U.S.-Philippine Security Engagement Board is held in Hawaii.
: In Jakarta, Secretary Rumsfeld and Indonesian counterpart Juwono Sudarsono have a testy exchange on what the Indonesian official saw as overbearing U.S. antiterrorist pressures on many countries. Secretary Rumsfeld rejected the allegation.
: The U.S. ambassador to Vietnam announces a $34 million grant to assist the country’s efforts to combat HIV/AIDS.
: Visiting Vietnam, Secretary Rumsfeld agrees to broaden defense cooperation, though no mention is made of U.S. navy port calls at Cam Ranh Bay.
: U.S. Pacific Commander Adm. William Fallon visits U.S. forces engaged in civic action programs in Mindanao. A few days earlier the U.S. hospital ship Mercy provided free medical services to local villagers in the area.
: State Department’s annual Report on Human Trafficking rates Myanmar and Laos at its lowest level with respect to human trafficking. Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia are also placed on a watch list of states that showed a significant number of victims; and the Philippines is removed from the list for improved law enforcement.
: At the Shangri-La Defense Ministers Conference, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld declares Iran to be “one of the leading terrorist nations in the world.” That coincides with State Department efforts to create a multilateral set of incentives with European partners to entice Tehran to give up its uranium enrichment program.
: The U.S. and Vietnam sign a bilateral market access agreement required for Vietnam’s bid to join the WTO.
: U.S. marine medical personnel from Okinawa establish a field hospital in the Indonesian town of Bantul devastated by the Yogyakarta earthquake.
: U.S. government gives a $500,000 reward to two Filipinos who helped capture an al-Qaeda-linked suspect implicated in a deadly ferry bombing. The reward came from the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program.
: The U.S. and Singapore navies launch the 12th annual Cooperation Afloat and Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise with 11 ships, a submarine, and two aircraft. This year’s exercise focuses on maritime conventional warfare.
: President Bush offers $500,000 in emergency aid to Indonesia in the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck Yogyakarta. The amount rose to $5 million May 30 along with a promise of 100 medical personnel.
: Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest extended another year by Myanmar ruling junta.
: U.S. and Malaysia inaugurate senior officials dialogue on economic and security issues. Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill attends the meeting in Putrajaya.
: State Department calls on Burma to release detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi when her house arrest expires this week. State also calls for reengagement by the ruling junta with all political actors.
: Adm. Roughead announces that a series of joint exercises are lined up in the Philippines that will include antiterrorism.
: The U.S. naval hospital ship Mercy docks in Manila to begin a four-week medical mission primarily in the southern Philippines. The Mercy is beginning a five-month deployment to the Asia-Pacific.
: UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari is allowed to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, raising hopes that she would soon be released from house arrest.
: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asks visiting Indonesian foreign affairs minister to convey thanks to President Yudhoyono for urging Iran to be a responsible member of the international community by insuring that its nuclear energy program is entirely peaceful and that Tehran would abide by its international obligations.
: President Bush renews sanctions against Burma for failing to take steps toward the restoration of democracy.
: Japan, China, India, and the U.S. pledge capability development assistance to the littoral states for maritime security enhancements in the Malacca Strait at ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Security Policy Conference.
: Bush administration renews financial and other sanctions against Myanmar after the junta extended the state of emergency under which it has ruled since 1997.
: U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce warns that Thailand’s political stalemate need to be resolved soon, or foreign investment could be negatively affected. The Thai Supreme Court invalidated the April election, and a new vote has yet to be scheduled.
: The 25th annual Cobra Gold military exercise takes place in Thailand with the U.S., Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Japan as participants.
: In Washington talks, Vietnam and the United States reach an agreement on the conditions for Hanoi’s accession to the WTO, which will occur later this year.
: Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Gary Roughead states the U.S. has no desire for a permanent presence in Southeast Asia or to infringe on Southeast Asian states’ sovereignty in any way.
: Indonesian President Yudhoyono offers to mediate between the U.S. and Iran regarding the latter’s nuclear program. The offer was made during Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s Jakarta visit.
: Bush administration moves to resettle in the U.S. some of the Burmese refugees in Thailand, though many will remain in refugee camps because of stipulations in the Patriot Act that exclude anyone supporting terrorist or armed rebel movements.
: Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokesperson says Hanoi has repeatedly asked the U.S. to remove Vietnam from a State Department list of “countries of particular concern regarding religious freedom,” stating Vietnam’s continued inclusion “fails to accurately reflect the situation of religious freedom in the country.”
: State Department’s Country Report on Terrorism states that there is no evidence of al-Qaeda involvement in Thailand’s southern Muslim terrorist activities.
: The annual U.S.-sponsored Symposium on East Asia Security opens in the Philippines with most Asia-Pacific nations represented. Emphasis is on the linkages between transnational terrorism and transnational crime.
: Malaysian International Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz states that any free trade agreement negotiated with the U.S. would not permit encroachment on Malaysia’s socio-economic goals. FTA negotiations are scheduled to begin in July.
: The Fourth Indonesia-U.S. Security Dialogue takes place in Washington, D.C. U.S. technical assistance for Malacca Strait patrols is discussed.
: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen rejects U.S. request to send troops to Iraq in noncombatant roles.
: Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia signed a formal agreement to coordinate anti-piracy patrols along the Strait of Malacca.
: The United States freezes the funds of jailed Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah leader Abu Bakir Bashir and three other members of the militant network and is seeking to have their names added to a UN list of terrorists linked to al-Qaeda. Bashir dismisses the action because he says he has no funds in the United States.
: An Indonesian arrested in Hawaii for smuggling weapons from the United States is a supplier of spare parts to the Indonesian army.
: House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert visiting Hanoi affirms multidimensional cooperation between the United States and Vietnam and support for concluding negotiations for Vietnam’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).
: Thailand contracts to buy six special operations versions of the Sikorsky Blackhawk helicopter for maritime defense and disaster relief.
: Sixth Proliferation Security Initiative exercise takes place in Darwin, Australia simulating the air interception of WMD. Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and the U.S. participated in the three-day event, and 26 other countries sent observers.
: Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Pangestu arrives in Washington to discuss economic relations and announces the revival of the U.S.-Indonesian Trade and Investment Forum with Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick. Pangestu encourages U.S. investors to come to Indonesia.
: Indonesia’s Special Forces (Kopassus) rejoins the U.S. Pacific Area Special Operations Conference after Washington lifted its military embargo.
: ASEAN Secretary General Ong Ken Yong pressures China and India to persuade the Burmese junta to step up democratic reform after Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, in his capacity as ASEAN Special Envoy to Myanmar, is denied permission to meet National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
: House International Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights conducts hearings on human rights in Vietnam, to assess progress in light of the anticipated debate on granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations to Hanoi this summer.
: Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, State Department EAP DAS Eric John signals that the Bush administration will support renewal of the import ban in the Myanmar Freedom and Democracy Act.
: U.S. Peace Corps announces that it will place Volunteers in Cambodia for the first time in that country’s history. Scheduled to arrive in 2007, the first volunteers will teach English and work in health education.
: At the first international conference for victims of Agent Orange, held in Hanoi, war veterans from the U.S., Australia, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Vietnam call for the U.S. government to apologize for the use of defoliants during the Vietnam War, and for U.S. manufacturers of Agent Orange to pay compensation “commensurate with liability.”
: U.S. and Vietnam hold negotiations on Vietnam’s accession to the World Trade Organization, on the margins of the 12th multilateral round on Vietnam and the WTO in Geneva.
: U.S. announces a $11.5 million grant to Indonesia for poultry and health surveillance programs to avert avian flu. To date, the virus has killed 22 Indonesians. Jakarta estimates it will require $900 million to fight the disease.
: U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Marine indicates that the State Department is “exploring conditions” for Vietnam’s removal from the list of Countries of Particular Concern on religious freedom.
: Exxon Mobil and P.T. Pertamina sign a joint operating agreement for the Cepu oil block.
: A senior U.S. official, speaking on background, asserts that “Indonesia can be a big player again,” and suggests the country could take a more vigorous role in ASEAN.
: UN and Cambodia issue agreements that form a legal foundation for efforts to put Khmer Rouge leaders on trial for crimes against humanity during their 1975-78 reign.
: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits Indonesia, the only Southeast Asian country in a trip that includes Australia, Chile, and Peru. She meets the Indonesian foreign policy establishment, visits a Muslim school, and launches an $8.5 million U.S. assistance program to promote education using Sesame Street characters.
: In response to Myanmar’s announcement of an avian flu outbreak near Mandalay, the U.S. provides 2,000 units of protective clothing and sprayers through the Food and Agricultural Organization.
: FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole visits the Philippines. The U.S. provides more than $12 million in assistance, equipment, and training to help strengthen Philippine law enforcement.
: U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman launches first round of negotiations between the U.S. and Malaysia for a free trade agreement. A heavy turnout of senators and congressman is viewed as a hopeful sign for approval of a final agreement.
: Malaysia announces it will open its market to U.S. boneless beef.
: President Arroyo lifts the state of emergency in the Philippines.
: Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill arrives in Manila to co-chair the ASEAN Regional Forum Intersessional Support Group and to kick off a “listening tour” of the region on the U.S. role in Southeast Asia. He indicates that U.S. reservations against the East Asia Summit are waning.
: Thai government suspends talks on the U.S.-Thai Free Trade Agreement because of snap elections scheduled for April 2. Negotiations are tentatively set to resume in October. Bangkok also postpones signing a free trade agreement with Japan.
: Vietnam’s 54 shrimp companies that have been exporting to the U.S. since 2004 ask the Department of Commerce to reconsider anti-dumping tariffs against them. A decision will be forthcoming in 90 days.
: Intel announces it will build a $300 million semi-conductor assembly and testing plant in Ho Chi Minh City, making it the largest investment in Vietnam by a U.S. company. Operations will begin in the second half of 2007.
: State Department issues a statement welcoming the unanimous decision of the Cambodian National Assembly to reinstate Sam Rainsy and two opposition MPs, all of whom had been expelled from the legislature in 2005.
: In response to Philippine President Gloria Arroyo’s declaration of national emergency, the State Department issues a statement urging the government and anti-Arroyo activists to reject violence and protect civil liberties. Arroyo imposed the emergency because of a rumored coup plot timed to coincide with 20th anniversary celebrations of the 1986 “People’s Power” revolution.
: Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono indicates that he will back Exxon Mobil as the lead operator of the Cepu Contract Area in East and Central Java in the oil company’s dispute with the wholly-owned state enterprise P.T. Pertamina.
: Balikatan 2006 training exercises are launched, with simultaneous activity in Cebu, Luzon, and Sulu. The exercises focus on counterterrorism and interoperability between the two militaries, and involve 5,500 U.S. and 2,800 Philippine personnel.
: U.S. and Vietnam resume official dialogue on human rights in Hanoi, after a three-year hiatus.
: After the Philippines suffers a massive mudslide in Leyte, the U.S. diverts a naval vessel docked in Subic Bay for Balikatan exercises to provide disaster assistance; U.S. helicopters, also in country, perform rescue and relief services.
: U.S. moves the Philippines from the “Special 301 Intellectual Property Rights Priority Watch List” to the “Watch List,” which signifies improvement.
: State Department issues a statement welcoming the return to Cambodia of Sam Rainsy, opposition leader whose year-long exile was ended when King Norodom Sihamoni pardoned his criminal conviction for defamation at the government’s request.
: Protests against caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in Danish newspapers spread to the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and the U.S. Consulate in Surabaya.
: ASEAN Secretary General Ong Keng Yong indicates that ASEAN is in discussions with Washington on establishment of the first formal U.S.-ASEAN Summit, which could take place in late 2006 or early 2007.
: At an Asia Society forum in Houston, Singaporean ambassador to the U.S. Chan Heng-chee says, “The U.S. response or failure to respond to the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 strengthened China’s standing in the region…China did not take a wrong step during this crisis.”
: U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce seeks assurances from the Thai government that U.S. businesses would not lose preferences with the expiration of trade provisions in the 1966 Thailand-U.S. Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations. Under WTO rules, the provisions expired Dec. 31, 2005.
: Ministry of Trade and Industry in Vietnam announces new allocation procedures for quotas on U.S.-bound textile exports. Under the new system, 40 percent of the quota will be automatically allocated, vs. 70 percent in previous years; the remaining 60 percent will be divided among companies with good performance records in 2005.
: Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill opens the new U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh. Prime Minister Hun Sen uses the occasion to free Kem Sokha and three other activists, calling the releases “a gift to the United States.”
: U.S. and Philippine militaries embark upon a month of small unit exchanges – Balance Piston 06-02 – in North Catabato under the U.S. Joint Combined Training program for the Pacific Rim.
: Through a diplomatic note, the U.S. informs the Philippine government that it will retain custody of four Marines accused of rape while their case is processed through the Philippine courts. The Marines will reside at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
: U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Joseph Mussomeli says the Cambodian government should stop arresting critics and “needs to chill.”
: State Department expresses concern that no one has been brought to justice in Thailand for the 2004 disappearance of attorney Somchai Neelaphaisit, who alleged that the police tortured prisoners, after four officers charged in the disappearance were acquitted.
: Four-day talks to negotiate the U.S.-Thailand Free Trade Agreement, the sixth round of negotiations, begin in Chiang Mai amidst protests there and in Bangkok.
: The State Department protests the arrests of Kem Sokha, human rights activist, and three other civil society figures in Cambodia and charges the Cambodian government with attempting to neutralize all opposition.
: At the request of the U.S., the UNSC hears a briefing on human rights abuses in Myanmar. Ambassador Bolton said, on the basis of the briefing, that the U.S. would “continue advocating Security Council scrutiny.”
: Singapore Ministry of Defense announces purchase of 12 F-15SG fighters to be the Republic’s next multi-role combat aircraft. Delivery is scheduled for 2008-2009.
: Thai Justice Minister denies U.S. media reports that the U.S. CIA operated a secret jail in Thailand for captured high-level terrorist suspects.
: Director of U.S. National Intelligence John Negroponte meets with President Arroyo and reportedly urges that the Philippines pass antiterrorist legislation against the growing threat of Jemmah Islamiyah training activities in Mindanao.
: U.S. embassy in Manila “temporarily” closes for security reasons.
: Philippine Defense Secretary Arelino Cruz, Jr. meets Secretary Rumsfeld in Washington while about 200 U.S. troops are in the southern Philippines conducting training and civic action programs.
: U.S. State Department denounces the “National Convention” of Myanmar’s military junta, calling it “neither a credible political process…nor a means for the national reconciliation.” It has no legitimacy to draft a constitution representative of the Burmese people.
: UN Security Council agrees to a U.S. proposal to hold a formal briefing on the situation in Myanmar – the first time the UNSC will discuss the political situation in that country. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton claims that Myanmar was seeking nuclear power capabilities, an allegation denied by Burmese authorities.
: Indonesian President Yudhoyono lifts an entry ban that had been placed on terrorism expert Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group. The president’s action is a rare example of his overriding the bureaucracy. The ban on Jones was creating international embarrassment for Indonesia.
: U.S., Thai, and Singapore air forces begin annual Cope Thunder air exercise with a two-day Command Post event. A follow-on flying exercise will occur in February 2006.
: State Department condemns Myanmar’s military junta for extending opposition leader and Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest for 12 months.
: Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burn, citing national security interests, waives conditionality pertaining to Foreign Military Financing and defense exports to Indonesia, thus expanding bilateral military reengagement.
: Indonesia welcomes renewal of military ties with the U.S., broken after the 1991 Indonesian military shootings in East Timor. The ties have been restored to acknowledge Indonesia’s cooperation in the war on terror.
: Malaysian Prime Minister Badawi, meeting President Bush on the eve of the APEC summit, urges the U.S. to be more even handed in its treatment of Muslims in Iraq and the Palestinian territories.
: President Bush and Southeast Asian leaders congratulate Indonesia on the killing of Azahari, one of the region’s most wanted terrorists who built the explosives used by suicide bombers in Bali, the Jakarta Marriott, and the Australian embassy. Bush meets with six ASEAN leaders on the sidelines of the APEC meeting in Busan, Korea.
: U.S. and Australian defense chiefs agree to enhance Southeast Asian counterterror cooperation, building on their work with Indonesia and the Philippines.
: U.S. and several ASEAN members led by Thailand call for an “enhanced partnership” on security and development issues at a meeting prior to APEC in South Korea.
: U.S. and Vietnam sign accord permitting the emigration of Vietnamese who had been unable to benefit from the U.S. humanitarian resettlement program before it ended in 1994. The U.S. will accept applications from Vietnamese citizens who would have been eligible for immigration under the earlier program.
: Singapore Armed Forces conduct first unilateral exercise at the U.S. Marines Training Center in 29 Palms, California. The exercise integrates the Singapore Air Force with commando ground forces and includes UAVs.
: In the U.S.-Thailand Strategic Dialogue, Thai officials briefed U.S. representatives on the situation in the restive south, while U.S. officials affirmed this was Thailand internal affair, though Washington was ready to assist if requested.
: Secretary Rice releases the State Department’s annual report on international religious freedom and mentions Vietnam as one of eight countries of “particular concern.” Hanoi condemns its inclusion.
: Thailand and the U.S. conclude a two-day “Strategic Dialogue” at which both sides agreed to encourage Myanmar toward democratization. While Washington supports sanctions, Bangkok prefers quiet diplomacy.
: Thai Prime Minister Thaksin denies there was ever a secret prison in his country where the CIA held terrorist suspects.
: U.S. Treasury Department freezes the assets of six Thai companies with alleged ties to Burmese drug traffickers linked to the United Wa State Army’s heroin and methamphetamine distribution networks.
: U.S. defense officials reveal Omar al-Faruq, al-Qaeda’s most senior operative in Southeast Asia, escaped from U.S. custody in July.
: Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo briefs U.S. Director for National Intelligence John Negroponte on the current Philippine political situation. Negroponte praises Philippine reform and counterterrorist efforts.
: Vietnam demands that the U.S. remove it from a State Department blacklist of religious rights violators so as not to negatively affect the recent progress in bilateral relations. The list is produced annually as mandated by Congress.
: A U.S. Navy ship, Joint Venture, delivers humanitarian supplies to Mindanao for a U.S.-Philippine joint civic action effort.
: State Department expresses concern about Myanmar’s intimidation efforts toward the ILO office in Rangoon which received 21 death threats in August and September.
: Congressman James Leach, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, castigates Hun Sen’s government in Cambodia for human rights and press freedom violations.
: U.S. embassy in Jakarta issues a warning to avoid non-essential travel to Indonesia after the Oct. 1 Bali bombing. The last time a U.S. travel warning was issued was in May.
: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien-loong, speaking at the PRC Higher Party School, reiterates his government’s position that Asia be open to all great powers, including the U.S., China, the EU, and Japan.
: Malaysian Defense Minister Najib Razak says that the U.S. could provide aircraft for the littoral states’ “Eyes in the Sky” anti-piracy patrol of the Malacca Straits but that the primary responsibility remains with the straits states. So far, there are only two flights per week.
: U.S. backs Indonesian government plan to strengthen counterterrorism legislation.
: State Department bioterrorism expert Henry Crumpton in Manila urges Southeast Asian states to prepare for bioterror attacks from al-Qaeda-affiliated groups that have stated intentions to develop such weapons.
: On a tour to improve U.S. understanding of and image in the Muslim world, President Bush’s special envoy on public diplomacy, Karen Hughes, faces harsh questioning from Muslim women university students in Jakarta about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.
: After Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen arrests activists for alleged defamation when they challenged Cambodia’s recent border demarcation agreement with Vietnam, the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh called on the Cambodian government to protect the constitutional right of freedom of expression.
: U.S. and Philippine forces begin a two-week war game called Talon Vision on the main island of Luzon. Its purpose its to improve interoperability in joint amphibious landings and other operations. U.S. forces are coming from Okinawa.
: Secretary Leavitt signs a cooperation agreement with Laos promising $3.4 million to control outbreaks of avian flu. Soon thereafter, he pledges another $7 million to assist Vietnam. U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce expressed concern that less developed Southeast Asian states may be unaware of a flu outbreak until it has already spread beyond the region.
: U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt signs cooperation agreements with Cambodia and Thailand to combat a possible avian flu pandemic and pledged $1.8 million to each country for its efforts.
: U.S. and Philippine officials claim that one of the masterminds of the 2002 Bali bombings, Dulmatin, is hiding in Mindanao. An electronics expert, trained by al Qaeda, he is believed to be with a group of militants from Abu Sayyaf and Jemmah Islamiyah.
: U.S. Charge d’Affaires Daryl Johnson denies that Washington plays any role in the political turmoil in the Philippines and reiterates U.S. support for President Arroyo’s government.
: U.S. posts an $11 million reward for information leading to the capture of Dulmatin and Umar Patek, suspects in the 2002 Bali bombing. The reward is exceeded only by the $25 million offered for Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice condemns the terrorist bombings in Bali and reaffirms the “common fight against terror” with Indonesia.
: Three suicide bombers struck in Bali at tourist locations killing at least 25 and injuring over 100.
: In response to the U.S. ambassador’s concern that foreign terrorists could be operating in southern Thailand, Prime Minister Thaksin states: “I do not believe it,” though he later acknowledged there may be links among Islamist terror groups throughout Southeast Asia.
: President Bush removes Vietnam from the U.S. list of major drug producing and transit countries. Vietnam’s foreign minister welcomes the decision as recognition of Hanoi’s special attention to the fight against drug trafficking.
: In a White House meeting with Thai PM Thaksin, President Bush emphasizes the need for cooperation to track the avian flu virus. They also discuss a pending bilateral free trade agreement. President Bush extended America’s appreciation for Thailand’s donation of relief supplies for Hurricane Katrina victims.
: Through the International Red Cross, Malaysia donates $1 million to Hurricane Katrina victims, according to Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid.
: Secretary Rice meets with ASEAN foreign ministers during the 60th UN General Assembly in New York.
: Former top Philippine law enforcement official and an FBI analyst are arrested in Newark and charged with passing classified FBI information to government officials in Manila.
: Thailand sends five forensic pathologists to the U.S. to help identify Katrina bodies. The team did similar work after the December 2004 Asian tsunami.
: Four Singapore Air Force Chinook helicopters in Texas for training assist the Texas National Guard in a mission to aid victims of Katrina.
: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad excoriates the U.S. and Britain at a Kuala Lumpur human rights conference, calling the U.S. and UK “terrorists and murderers for killing innocent Iraqis.”
: Thai government sends condolences to the U.S. on Hurricane Katrina’s devastation and offers to send rice and medical teams to assist the victims. According to the Thai foreign minister, the U.S. “gratefully accepted this gracious offer.”
: Singapore announces it is negotiating with Boeing over the purchase of U.S.-made F-15s to replace its aging Skyhawks. Boeing beat out the French-built Rafale.
: Malaysia offers food and medicine to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
: Indonesian House of Representatives voices concern about a resolution approved by the U.S. House of Representatives that questions the status of Papua province and mentions alleged human rights violations there. The Indonesian legislature plans to send a delegation to lobby the U.S. Congress on the issue.
: The Indonesian defense minister talks of new arrangements for the co-production of short-range missiles with China, while simultaneously urging the U.S. to further ease restrictions on military-to-military ties.
: ASEAN Secretary General On Keng Yang says that President Bush should not be invited to the East Asian Summit (EAS) as an observer. The ASEAN secretary general also states that U.S. interests would not be ignored in EAS discussions.
: Cambodian Premier Hun Sen asks the U.S. for non-lethal military aid following the lifting of a U.S. ban on military assistance. Cambodia has agreed that Americans in Cambodia are exempt from prosecution by the International Criminal Court. The U.S. had halted military aid to Cambodia following a 1997 coup when Hun Sen seized power from Prince Norodom Rannaridh.
: Singapore Defense Minister Teo Chee Han praises U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative at the beginning of a five-day exercise, Exercise Deep Sabre 2005 designed to interdict seaborne WMD. The drill involves 10 surface ships, six patrol craft, and 2,000 personnel from 13 countries – the majority from the U.S., Singapore, Australia, Japan, France, and Britain. It is the first PSI exercise to be held in Southeast Asia.
: The U.S. condemns a Cambodian military court ruling that finds an opposition lawmaker guilty of sedition.
: The White House advocates lifting of the military embargo on Indonesia so that full cooperation of the two countries’ armed forces can be restored.
: U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Christopher Le Fleur states that the U.S. is eager to assist the littoral states in protecting the Strait of Malacca and awaits their requests concerning the type of help they need.
: U.S. and Indonesian military officers hold bilateral defense dialogue in Jakarta.
: U.S. State Department issues a statement reiterating support for Indonesia’s territorial integrity, an implicit response to a U.S. House of Representatives bill that calls for a new referendum on Papua’s independence from Indonesia.
: Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar at the ARF meeting states his country’s willingness to cooperate with big powers against piracy in the Malacca Strait as long as Malaysia’s sovereignty is respected.
: Deputy Secretary Zoellick lays out broad array of issues at ARF meeting ranging from counterterror and maritime security through avian flu and natural disasters.
: At the ASEAN meeting with the U.S. in Vientiane, ASEAN urges Washington to proceed toward negotiating a Southeast Asia-wide free trade agreement.
: U.S. Embassy officials say they hope political turmoil accompanying the prospect of Philippine President Arroyo’s impeachment will not lead to a coup, martial law, or major street demonstrations.
: U.S. Navy ships arrive in Surabaya to join Indonesia in the ninth Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise – which last took place in 2002. So far, the 2005 CARAT exercises have included Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia. Following the Indonesian phase, the U.S. task group will continue to the Philippines and Brunei. 200 U.S. service members are in CARAT 2005 Indonesia.
: Deputy Secretary Robert Zoellick attends the ASEAN post-ministerial conference and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Vientiane.
: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in a speech to UMNO, the ruling party, reiterates that he will never permit foreign militaries to escort ships through the Malacca Strait.
: One of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organizations, Muhammadiyah, raises the prospect of cultural cooperation with the U.S., including the reconstruction of Aceh.
: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsieh-loong meets President George Bush at the White House and signs a Strategic Framework Agreement to enhance defense cooperation through policy dialogues, counterterrorism, counter-proliferation, and joint military exercises and training.
: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Thailand endorses Thai National Reconciliation Commission to defuse southern tensions and accepts Thai government’s assessment that international terrorists are not operating there. She says the brutal Islamic insurgency in southern Thailand that has led to 800 deaths since January 2004 is a domestic matter for Thailand to resolve.
: Secretary Rice meets with Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon before flying to regions of southern Thailand struck by last December’s tsunami.
: Mike Arroyo, husband of the Philippine president, leaves for voluntary exile in the U.S. after allegations of illegal gambling kickbacks.
: The nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier USS Nimitz arrives in Port Klang, Malaysia, for a visit.
: Christopher Hill, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, hosts the U.S.-ASEAN Dialogue in Washington.
: Rep. Loretta Sanchez attempts to block funds for Vietnamese participation in IMET, but withdraws the amendment when Rep. Jim Kolbe persuades her that IMET training for Vietnam will “provide an additional context for the Vietnamese to understand how important it is for the U.S. to see improvements in human rights.”
: U.S. expresses serious concern about political repression in Burma during a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council.
: Agency for International Development Director Andrew Natsios announces that $656 million in aid to Indonesia, part of the package requested by President Bush for tsunami relief, has been released by the Office of Management and Budget.
: The Pew Global Attidues Project releases a new survey of the Muslim world, which indicates that Indonesian approval of the U.S. has doubled since the tsunami relief operation, but still lags pre-2001 levels.
: President Bush and Prime Minister Khai meet at the White House, the first official visit of a Vietnamese head of state since the end of the Vietnam War. They sign accords on adoption, religious freedom, and agricultural cooperation.
: After a meeting between PM Khai and Secretary Rumsfeld, the two nations announce that Vietnam will participate in the IMET program for the first time.
: PM Khai and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez witness signing of major business and operating agreements between U.S. and Vietnamese business groups, including Boeing, Motorola, and Unocal. Vietnam also promises the American Insurance Group a license to sell non-casualty insurance in Vietnam in six months.
: On the first day of his visit to the U.S., Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai meets Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in Seattle. Microsoft promises to assist Vietnam’s technological development and train 50,000 Vietnamese teachers.
: U.S. and Indonesian officials meet under the auspices of the U.S.-Indonesian Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and discuss intellectual property rights, agriculture, customs and the domestic investment climate.
: Rep. Chris Smith, chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations of the House International Relations Committee, holds hearings on human rights in Vietnam.
: U.S. and Indonesia sign a debt deferral agreement, rescheduling $212 million to help Indonesia free up resources for tsunami assistance.
: Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Board concludes 46th anniversary meeting, which includes strategic dialogues and approves reactivation of the Joint MDB secretariat.
: Rumsfeld stops in Thailand and meets with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to discuss regional security issues.
: Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld attends the three-day meeting of the International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia Security Conference in Singapore, where he questions China’s growing military expenditures.
: State Department releases the 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report. Indonesia and Singapore are unchanged as Tier 2 countries, but Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos are upgraded from the Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 2. The Philippines stays on the Tier 2 Watch List, while Cambodia slips down to Tier 3, making it eligible for sanctions. Burma stays on Tier 3.
: President of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, a California-based insurgency group, is arrested in Long Beach on federal charges of conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, for a November 2000 assault on Cambodia’s Ministry of Defense.
: U.S. Navy begins two weeks of antiterrorism exercises with Singapore in the South China Sea. The exercises involve more than 1,500 troops, a submarine, and 12 ships.
: Ambassador Nitya Pibulsongkran, head of the Thai negotiating team for the U.S.-Thai Free Trade Agreement, says that negotiations are one-quarter complete and estimates they will take another two years.
: U.S. and Indonesia resume bilateral energy consultations after an eight-year hiatus.
: President Bush meets with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the White House. Bush announces that the U.S. will donate another $400 million for tsunami relief, bringing the total official U.S. contribution to $857 million, and that Indonesian participation in the International Military Education and Training program will resume after 14 years.
: U.S. Embassy in Jakarta closes due to a specific threat against it on the internet, re-opens a few days later.
: White House sends notice to Congress that emergency conditions in Burma extend beyond May 20, 2005, the first step toward renewing sanctions against the military regime.
: Zoellick wraps up his trip in Singapore with a meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, at which he reiterates U.S. policy on Burma’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2006.
: In Malaysia, Zoellick meets with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, discusses security in the Strait of Malacca, and witnesses the signing of an agreement to renew military-to-military relations.
: In Indonesia, Zoellick signs a memorandum of understanding with Jakarta for reconstruction of the road from Banda Aceh to Meulaboh, a $245 million project.
: The U.S. Army Pacific and the Logistics General Department of the People’s Army of Vietnam co-host the four-day 15th Asia-Pacific Military Medicine Conference in Hanoi.
: In Hanoi, Zoellick announces the conclusion of a religious freedom agreement with Vietnam.
: In the Philippines, Zoellick meets with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Discussing the situation in Mindanao, he hints that development aid to the Philippines may increase if progress is made on negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
: Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick departs for a nine-day visit to Southeast Asia where he will call upon the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Zoellick will review post-tsunami reconstruction efforts as well as bilateral security and economic issues.
: Cobra Gold military exercises with U.S., Thai, Singapore, and Japan militaries open in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The 11-day exercise adds disaster response to the agenda.
: Hospital ship USS Mercy wraps up emergency assistance in Nias after an 8.7 magnitude earthquake struck the Indonesian island March 8.
: U.S. trade representative announces that Indonesia will remain on the Special 301 Priority Watch List for 2005, after reviewing the country’s trade practices for intellectual property rights protection.
: U.S. and Thailand conclude third round of negotiations on a free trade agreement.
: State Department issues a statement of concern over avian flu, which has killed 50 people in Southeast Asia to date, and offers bilateral technical and epidemiological help to affected countries.
: U.S. Navy dispatches hospital ship USS Mercy and its supply vessel to the latest earthquake-struck island off the Sumatran coast.
: New U.S. Pacific Commander Adm. William J. Fallon voices apprehension about China’s military buildup and intentions toward Taiwan, while also promising “whatever assets we may have” in the Southeast Asian fight against terrorists.
: Magnitude 8.7 earthquake strikes Sumatra.
: U.S. and British governments post new travel advisories about visiting the Philippines based on intelligence that Abu Sayyaf could engage in retaliatory attacks for the arrest of four of its members in a Manila police raid.
: Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono arrives in Washington to convince the U.S. to resume full military relations in consideration of Indonesia’s democratic development.
: Singapore agrees to install high-tech equipment at its ports within six months to detect nuclear and other radioactive material in a new counterterrorism agreement with the U.S. Singapore is the first Southeast Asian country to do so.
: Indonesian court convicts alleged al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah leader Abu Bakar Bashir on one count of criminal conspiracy but acuits him of all terrorism charges related to the Bali, Jakarta Marriott, and Australian Embassy bombings. The U.S. and Australia express deep disappointment with the verdict.
: Indonesia welcomes a U.S. plan to resume IMET for Indonesian forces.
: Over 1,000 U.S. sailors are in Kamola, Thailand, helping to clear debris left by the tsunami and delivering supplies sent from Americans.
: U.S. says UN peacekeepers are no longer necessary in East Timor. Washington pays more than one-fourth of the peacekeeping costs. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has suggested a year’s extension of a scaled-back force.
: U.S. Embassy in Thailand releases 2004 annual State Department Human Rights Report, which criticizes Thailand’s human rights practices, particularly focusing on the government’s handling of separatist violence in the south.
: Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said the U.S. will remain engaged in Asia after meeting with Secretary Rice.
: Over 300 U.S. soldiers and 650 Filipino troops open Balikatan exercise in Quezon Province well away from Islamic insurgents in Mindanao but close to communist New People’s Army guerrilla zones.
: Former Presidents Bush and Clinton visit Banda Aceh and pledge additional recovery assistance.
: Former Presidents Bush and Clinton, representing the U.S., visit Thailand and PM Thaksin.
: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice proposes to reinstate U.S. military training programs for Indonesian military officers. The programs had been suspended since the 1992 and 1999 human rights violations committed by Indonesian soldiers during East Timor independence agitation and subsequent referendum.
: Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk on his website agrees with Cambodian PM Hun Sen’s condemnation of the U.S. for siding with three opposition National Assembly members whose parliamentary immunity was stripped.
: U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Christopher LaFleur criticizes Malaysia’s violations of intellectual property rights, saying the problem harms bilateral trade ties. He said that Malaysia is one of the largest exporters of pirated products.
: State Department condemns arrest of prodemocracy leaders by Burma’s military junta. Prodemocracy groups were prevented from using Union Day to condemn the junta’s illegitimate rule.
: U.S. almost triples tsunami relief pledge to $950 million, making it the largest government donor and the largest disaster relief pledge in U.S. history.
: Carrier USS Abraham Lincoln withdraws from the coast of Sumatra where it had been involved in tsunami relief operations since late December. The Navy hospital ship USS Mercy arrives in Banda Aceh.
: U.S. criticizes Cambodian Parliament’s decision to lift parliamentary immunity from three opposition lawmakers. One fled the country, another was arrested. The effect is to intimidate the opposition and stifle criticism of Hun Sen’s government.
: Former President Clinton chosen by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to be his special envoy to countries affected by the South Asian tsunami. The appointment was approved by President Bush.
: Japan invited by Thailand and the U.S. to participate in the Command Post portion of the annual Cobra Gold May exercise in Thailand. The Command Post exercise is a peace support operation.
: Malaysia’s ruling party’s youth wing calls on all Muslim states to oppose U.S. military action against Iran, accused of developing nuclear weapons.
: Singapore announces the purchase of six advanced Sirkorsky S-70B naval helicopters for delivery between 2008-2010. They will operate off the navy’s new French-built frigates and are equipped for anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare.
: Department of Defense team visits Australia to discuss missile defense cooperation. Australia has not appropriated any funds for the program.
: Secretary Wolfowitz notes that President Yudhoyono cancelled his military leadership’s placement of a specific date for a U.S. military exit, citing the need for continued humanitarian aid.
: Secretary Wolfowitz backs U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) restoration for Indonesian military officers as a way of providing human rights education.
: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, observing the Aceh coastline from a helicopter, avers that quick response by the U.S. military to the tsunami disaster probably saved thousands of lives. He also said that the U.S. goal is to end its military presence in Indonesia as soon as possible.
: Indonesia asks all foreign troops to complete humanitarian missions by March 31. USSAbraham Lincoln leaves Indonesian territorial waters for international waters after Jakarta refused to permit it to continue training flights for its combat aircraft in Indonesian air space. Aid flights from the carrier continue.
: U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia B. Lynn Pascoe says that Indonesia had “every right” to decide how long American forces are needed in Aceh and that an end of March deadline is “reasonable.”
: Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly promises that the U.S. will provide full assistance in helping to create an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system.
: President Yudhoyono and other senior government and military officials as well as Muslim leaders all say that Indonesians should put aside their political differences with the U.S. and welcome its humanitarian aid in Aceh province.
: Secretary Powell meets in Jakarta with heads of Asian states and donor countries to plan for relief flows and post-tsunami reconstruction. He agrees to relax U.S. restrictions on spare parts for Indonesian C-130 aircraft needed to deliver supplies to hard-hit areas.
: In a meeting of tsunami donor nations, Powell turns over control for long- term aid from the core group the U.S. had formed (U.S., Japan, India, Australia) to the United Nations.
: Commenting on television coverage of U.S. service personnel providing aid in Banda Aceh, Secretary of State Powell states that, “it does give the Muslim world … an opportunity to see American generosity and American values in action.”
: Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Bush Sr. visit embassies in Washington of Asian states stricken by the tsunami to extend condolences and promise assistance.
: Philippine President Gloria Magapagal-Arroyo offers to place air marshals on Philippine Air Line flights to the U.S. and wants the U.S. to reciprocate for all U.S. flights destined for the Philippines.
: The U.S. aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln is offshore Sumatra, its helicopters carrying supplies to stricken towns in Aceh province. The U.S. Pacific Command described the overall U.S. relief effort as the “largest in the region in at least 50 years.”
: President Bush announces that the U.S., Australia, Japan, and India will form an international coalition to lead relief efforts after the devastating Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami that claimed more than 150,000 lives. The U.S. has already pledged $35 million and sent its navy to help the aid effort.
: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and Foreign Minister Datuk Syed Hamid Albar condemn the terrorist attack on the U.S. consultate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but the foreign minister insists that these despicable actions are a reaction to developments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Palestinian issue.
: Six hundred U.S. Marines from Okinawa and other U.S. specialists in the Philippines for joint exercises extend their stay to assist Philippine armed forces in relief operations after typhoons in northern Luzon left 168,000 residents homeless.
: Philippine President Arroyo, pleased about the unexpected 6 percent Philippine growth rate this quarter, thanked the Philippines’ major trade partners and singled out the U.S.
: Thai army proposes that 2.2 billion baht be spent on new M16-A4 rifles and 12 used Cobra attack helicopters from the U.S.
: Based on an Indonesian government report, Jakarta decides to prosecute the U.S. gold mining company, Neumont, for polluting Bayut Bay in North Sulawesi. In October, U.S. managers of the company had been arrested but were later released.
: Philippine diplomat Angelito Nayan, abducted by a pro-Taliban group in Afghanistan in late October, is released unharmed. U.S. authorities worked closely with Manila to secure his release and that of two other hostages.
: U.S. nominates Philippines to chair APEC counterterrorism task force.
: Indonesian Minister of Manpower and Transmigraiton Fahmi Idris urges Indonesian workers not to work at U.S. military installations in Persian Gulf states because their safety cannot be guaranteed.
: Secretary of State Powell meets Thai counterpart Surakirat Sathirathai on the sidelines of the annual APEC meeting and remains noncommital on a U.S. endoresement of the Thai foreign minister’s bid to be the next UN secretary general.
: Commander of U.S. marines in the Pacific, Lt. Gen. Wallace Gregson, meets Indonesia Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Bernard Kent Sandakh to discuss enhanced cooperation.
: The United States scales back participation in the “Talon-Vision-05” joint military exercise in Luzon because of commitments in Iraq. Held annually since 2001, this year only 70 U.S. marines from Okinawa are involved.
: U.S. announces it is monitoring hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to the Philippines because of a corruption scandal involving a Philippine general.
: The Philippines announces it will receive 30 helicopters from the U.S. during the next six months and additional military assistance over the next six years.
: Philippine military detains three Mindanao-based militants accused of plotting to bomb the U.S. embassy in Manila.
: State Department spokesman Richard Boucher denounces deposed Burma Gen. Khin Nyunt’s successor, Lt. Gen. So Win, as the officer responsible for the May 2003 attack on democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s caravan in which 70 people are said to have died.
: Singapore defends its anti-money laundering policies after a State Department report lists the country as a hub for financial crime. The report acknowledged Singapore’s anti-money laundering efforts but noted that large-scale money laundering continued.
: Burma’s military junta ousts Prime Minister Gen. Khin Nyunt on corruption allegations, though outside analysts see his removal as a power play by generals who opposed Khin Nyunt’s reforms. A State Department spokesman lamented what he saw as a further retreat from “political and human rights.”
: On his website, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir urges U.S. Muslims to vote President Bush out of office for policies that have caused “oppression and humiliation” to Muslims throughout the world.
: U.S. political counselor in Kuala Lumpur states that Washington’s Regional Maritime Security Initiative was not a “stalking horse” for U.S. naval patrols in the Strait of Malacca but a capacity building measure for law enforcement agencies.
: With a good luck message from President Bush, Australia’s Liberal Party Prime Minister John Howard wins a rare fourth term in elections. He had sent combat forces into Iraq with the U.S. invasion but withdrew most of them soon after. Fewer than 200 Australian forces are in Iraq today, mostly securing the Australian embassy.
: U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Ralph Boyce congratulates Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on his election as president of Indonesia.
: Sen. Mitch McConnell criticizes Japan for funding 28 new assistance projects for Burma worth more than $18 million. McConnell argues Japan should join the U.S. and EU in economic sanctions against the repressive Burmese junta, not aid it.
: King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia, 81, announces that he has abdicated, ending a reign of 63 years. Claiming to have been marginalized by a “Kafkaesque kingdom,” the king’s abdication requires that a nine-member Throne Council arrange for a successor. The country’s constitution does not mention abdication. Sihanouk’s youngest son, Prince Sihamoni, was selected the new king.
: U.S. Embassy in Jakarta criticizes Indonesian police for detaining without charge several U.S. executives of the P.T. Newmount mining company over allegations of dumping hazardous waste into Buyat Bay in North Sulawesi. While expressing support for Indonesia’s judicial system, the embassy warned that arbitrary arrests could further harm the investment climate in the country.
: Presidential run-off elections in Indonesia. The official results to be announced on Oct. 5.
: Vietnam denounces U.S. State Department list naming it a “country of particular concern” with respect to religious freedom. Burma was also cited for religious persecution.
: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz publishes Op-Ed in The New York Times condemning the Indonesian government’s prosecution of Bambang Harymurti, chief editor of Tempo, the country’s leading news magazine. Bambang had written an article speculating that an open-air market fire had been arson to benefit a well-connected entrepreneur who planned a large commercial development on the location. Wolfowitz sees the prosecution as a strike against freedom of the press.
: Suicide truck bomber kills 10 people and injures 180 when his vehicle detonates adjacent to the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, the third major suicide bomb incident in Indonesia after Bali 2002 and the Jakarta Marriott in 2003.
: U.S. Embassy officials in Manila illustrate new fingerprint scanning technology being required of foreign visitors to the United States. The embassy stressed it would not be harder to visit the U.S., and the new technology would stop the use of stolen and counterfeit visas.
: U.S. issues new warnings to its citizens to avoid Western hotels in Jakarta following fresh concerns that terrorists are targeting locations frequented by Westerners. Indonesian police said they were unaware of any new threats.
: Former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is released from jail after serving six years for corruption and sodomy convictions, widely believed to have been political revenge at the behest of then Prime Minister Mahathir. The U.S. Embassy stated it is “gratifying to see that justice has now been served.” The Malaysian high court called the evidence used to convict Anwar “unreliable.”
: The USS John Stennis nuclear-powered carrier and accompanying battle group begin a rare four-day visit to Malaysia. Commander Rear Adm. Patrick Walsh avers America’s commitment to regional security and support for Malaysia, “a loyal and faithful partner and friend.”
: Singapore rejects U.S. government human rights report alleging it tolerates illicit trade in prostitutes and some foreign maids. The U.S. report accused Singapore of having no action plan to battle this trafficking, an allegation Singapore denies by pointing to stringent immigration controls.
: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration launches a month-long counternarcotics training program for the Philippine National Police and Army, emphasizing identifying and preserving evidence.
: U.S. pledges $168 million in aid over five years to Indonesia, much of it to reform school curriculum in hopes of combating Islamist extremism. Of the total, $236 million is earmarked for other human services and $75 million to food assistance.
: More than 1,500 unregistered Hmong refugees in a Thai camp attempt to join others who have been cleared for immigration to the U.S. They were detained by the Thai military because they missed the 2003 registration deadline. U.S. and Thai authorities are reportedly working to resolve the unregistered refugees’ plight.
: Secretary Powell renews order declaring the Philippine Communist Party a terrorist organization even though Philippine President Arroyo plans to hold peace talks with communist guerrillas this month.
: Manila and Washington reaffirm alliance against global terrorism after disagreeing about the Philippines’ early withdrawal of forces from Iraq.
: Arrests in Pakistan of a top al-Qaeda computer specialist reveals electronic mail to sleeper cells in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the U.S. among other countries.
: U.S. State Department expresses “dismay” and “profound disappointment” over the decision by an Indonesian appeals court to overturn the conviction of three Indonesian army officers and a policeman convicted of the massacre of hundreds of East Timorese during the 1999 independence referendum.
: North Korea accuses Vietnam and the United States of “conspiring” to help several hundred North Koreans to defect via Vietnam to South Korea.
: U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge attends Singapore National Day celebration at the Washington, D.C. Embassy, praising Singapore for sharing its homeland defense expertise with the United States.
: U.S. Pacific Command J-5 Maj. Gen. Karl Eikenberry meets Indonesia’s military chief Gen. Sutarto in Jakarta for discussions about improving military ties.
: U.S. missionary Gracia Burnham identifies six of her Abu Sayyaf kidnappers in a Manila court. She and her husband, who was killed in their rescue by Philippine forces, were held with 19 others for more than a year after being seized in 2002.
: U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Ralph Boyce congratulates President Megawati Sukarnoputri on Indonesia’s successful first round of presidential elections and expresses surprise at criticism of foreign election monitors for allegedly interfering.
: Indonesian prosecutors drop charges against jailed cleric Abu Bakar Bashir for the 2002 Bali bombing after the Constitutional Court rules that an counterterror law passed after the Bali bombing cannot be applied retroactively. Bashir remains in jail, however, and will be charged with leading the regional terrorist organization, Jemaah Islamiyah.
: Joint Philippines-U.S. counterterrorism exercise begins in North Cotabato province, an MILF stronghold. The exercise is confined to the grounds of a Philippine military camp.
: U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Riccordione returns to Washington for ”consultations” following the Philippines’ withdrawal of its 51 peacekeepers from Iraq.
: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore signed an agreement for joint patrols in the Malacca Strait to combat piracy.
: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi meets President Bush in Washington to discuss Muslim issues.
: Philippines completes withdrawal of 51 military and police peacekeepers from Iraq as Arab militants release a Philippine hostage. The U.S. and other gov