US - Southeast Asia

Chronology from May 2017 to Aug 2017

: 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.

: USS Dewey, 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.

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