US - Southeast Asia

Chronology from Jan 2023 to May 2023

: State Department issues a statement declaring solidarity with the Philippines over Chinese infringement of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and incidents of harassment and intimidation of Filipino vessels in the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

: United States and Thailand conduct the third bilateral energy dialogue in Washington, DC. The discussion includes strengthening clean energy supply chains for electric vehicles and their batteries, and taking advantage of opportunities for energy-related investment and trade through the Inflation Reduction Act.

: United States and the Philippines conduct third iteration of the US-Philippines 2+2 Dialogue in Washington, the first such meeting since 2016. US Secretaries of State Antony Blinken and Defense Lloyd Austin hosted Enrique Manalo, Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Carlito Galvez, Senior Undersecretary of Officer in Charge of the Department of National Defense. The dialogue focused on strengthening security relations under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and extending economic ties with the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

: US and the Philippines conduct the 38th iteration of the Balikatan (“Shoulder-to-Shoulder”) exercises. 5,400 personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and 12,200 US military personnel participate, making it the largest Baliktan held to date and a dramatic increase over the 2022 exercises which totaled 9,000 participants.

: Biden administration convenes the second Summit for Democracy, co-hosted with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and Republic of Zambia. Indonesia, the Philippines and Timor Leste participate from Southeast Asia. Malaysia had been invited to the first summit in 2021 but declined, on the grounds that the group would be viewed as anti-China.

: Myanmar’s State Administrative Council officially dissolves 40 political parties, including the National League for Democracy, the party of Aung San Suu Kyi and the winner of the November 2020 elections that the military set aside with the coup of Feb. 1, 2021.

: US Treasury Department imposes sanctions on two individuals and six entities in Myanmar and advises that the provision of jet fuel to the Tatmadaw will come under US sanctions.

: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia/Pacific Daniel Kritenbrink travels to Jakarta, Indonesia, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In Jakarta he participates in the ASEAN-US Dialogue and the ASEAN East Asian Summit Senior Officials Meeting in Jakarta.

: Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland travels to Manila, Philippines, and Tokyo, Japan. In the Philippines she discusses strengthening the US-Philippine alliance and cooperation on a number of global issues.

: A Cambodian court convicts former leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Kem Sokha of treason and sentenced him to 27 years of house arrest. Under detention since 2017, his sentencing was a clear warning to the remnants of the Cambodian political opposition ahead of general elections on July 23.

: Military regime in Myanmar amends the Anti-Terrorism Law to designate anyone who provides support, financial or otherwise, to a terrorist organization will also be designated as a terrorist. In 2021 the junta declared the National Unity Government and the People’s Defense Force as terrorists. The addendum also allows the regime to eavesdrop on suspects and confiscate their assets.

: US and Thailand co-host the 42nd round of Cobra Gold Exercises in three provinces of Thailand. Seven nations participated fully, with 20 observes or partial participants, including China, which was included in exercises for humanitarian assistance. The largest multinational exercises in the Asia-Pacific region, the 2023 exercises included 7,000 combined military personnel.

: Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman meets in Washington with senior representatives of Burma’s National Unity Government (NUG), including Zin Mar Aung. She welcomed the NUG’s establishment of a liaison office in Washington.

: State Department issues a statement of support for the Philippines in the face of reports that on Feb. 6 the People’s Republic of China Coast Guard’s used laser devices against the crew of a Philippine Coast Guard ship in the South China Sea.

: President Marcos makes an “official working visit” to Japan. This was Marcos’ ninth visit abroad since his inauguration in June 2022. Marcos met Prime Minister Kishida, and he and his wife were given an audience with Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako.

: In its capacity as the 2023 ASEAN Chair, Indonesia convenes a Foreign Ministers Retreat in Jakarta. Myanmar declines to attend, but Timor Leste participates as an observer, an early step toward eventual ASEAN membership.

: Philippine President Marcos and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, on a visit to Manila, formally announce that the United States and the Philippines will add four new basing sites to the five existing ones under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

: Myanmar’s junta imposes new martial law orders in 37 townships in 8 regions and states, including the Chin, Karen and Karen States. The martial law order prohibits political activities, including political party organization.

: To hold onto power under the current constitution, the State Administrative Council in Myanmar extends the State of Emergency imposed during the coup on Feb. 1, 2021 for another 6 months.

: United States joins several other countries and the European Union in a joint statement on the second anniversary of the military overthrow of civilian government in Myanmar. The statement underscores reports that air strikes, bombardments and the mass burning of villages and places of worship have targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure.

: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink visits Manila for the tenth US-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue,

: Vietnamese State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc resigns ahead of the near certainty that he would be pushed out in Vietnamese Communist Party Secretary-General Nguyen Phu Trong’s “Burning Furnace” anti-corruption campaign.

: Sonexay Siphandone is named prime minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Sonexay, former deputy prime minister, was elevated to his position by the Parliament on Dec. 30, 2022.

: Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos makes a state visit to China and meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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