US - Southeast Asia
Chronology from Jan 2018 to May 2018
: 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.