US - Southeast Asia
Chronology from May 2023 to Aug 2023
: China’s Ministry of Natural Resources issues a “standard” map of the Indo-Pacific region which reflects Chinese claims to most of the South China Sea as well as disputed areas in India and Russia. Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines make public statements of protest over the map.
: BRICS Summit opens in South Africa with the announcement that six nations were invited to join the group. Indonesia, in the group of 20 countries on track to enter, announced that it would defer decision on entering for two years.
: Secretary of Defense Austin and Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto issue a joint statement that the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and the US Indo-Pacific Strategy hare fundamental principles and that Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea are “inconsistent with international law.”
: US Treasury expands use of sanctions in Burma to impose penalties on any individual or entity operating in the jet fuel section of the Burmese economy, designating two individuals and three entities involved in procuring and distributing jet fuel to the Burmese military.
: Cambodian legislature approves nomination of Hun Manet, eldest son of former prime minister Hun Sen, as prime minister, marking a generational shift in the dominant Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
: After more than three months of political and judicial maneuvering, the Thai parliament approves nomination of the Pheu Thai Party’s Srettha Thavisin for prime minister. On the same day former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra returns to Thailand after a 15-year self-exile. As there are three criminal charges outstanding against him, Thaksin is taken from the airport to prison, where he is placed in a hospital ward. He faces eight years in detention.
: United States and Philippines launch inaugural US-Philippines Energy Policy Dialogue, established during Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip to the Philippines in November 2022.
: Malaysia holds six state elections, which are viewed as a contest of political strength between the government coalition (PH) led by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and the opposition coalition (BN), which includes the Islamist fundamentalist party PAS. As expected, the results are split evenly—each side won three states each—but the PH won their states with a smaller majority than it had previously held, with gains shown by PAS.
: Secretary of Defense Austin and Philippines Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro, Jr., confer by telephone on recent events in the South China Sea.
: Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels use water cannons and other maneuvers to obstruct a Philippine resupply mission to Second Thomas Shoal. The US State Department issues an immediate statement of support for the Philippines.
: Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Investment and Maritime Affairs Lahut Binsar Pandjaitan visits Washington and meets Secretary Blinken to discuss implementation of Indonesia’s Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) and the importance of critical minerals to clean energy.
: State Administrative Council (SAC) on Myanmar extends the state of emergency for another six months. The first SOE was imposed in the February 2021 coup which overthrew the elected civilian government led by the National League for Democracy (NLD).
: United States and Vietnam mark the 10th anniversary of the US-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, increasing speculation that the two countries will move to a Strategic Partnership in the near future.
: Following general elections in Cambodia in which the Cambodian People’s Party won 120 out of 125 seats, the US State Department said it had “taken steps” to impose visa restrictions “on individuals who undermined democracy and implemented a pause of foreign assistance programs” after determining the elections were “neither free nor fair.”
: Philippine President Bongbong Marcos signs into law legislation to create the Philippines’ first sovereign wealth fund, the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF).
: On the margins of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, China and ASEAN announced new guidelines for negotiation of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
: Secretary of State Blinken travels to Indonesia, where he participates in the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and the 30th ASEAN Regional Forum. While in Jakarta he and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi hold the second US-Indonesia Ministerial Dialogue, discussing supply chains, advancing energy transition, and bilateral cooperation on maritime security and defense.
: Vietnam Communist Party External Relations Chairman Le Hoai Trung visits Washington and meets Secretary of State Blinken.
: US Treasury Department announces new sanctions on Myanmar and designates two regime-controlled banks, Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) and Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank (MKN), both of which have been instrumental in facilitating the military’s use of foreign currency to procure arms and jet fuel abroad.
: Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan meets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his visit to Washington. They discuss US-China relations and US-Singapore environmental cooperation, including the Green Shipping Challenge which aims to reduce emissions in trade.
: In its capacity as ASEAN chair, Jakarta announces that the 10 ASEAN states will hold the first-ever ASEAN joint military exercises in the South China Sea in September. The exercises will not include combat operations training and will be held in the North Natuna Sea.
: 20th Asia Security Summit (Shangri-la Dialogue) is held in Singapore. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin meets on the sidelines with counterparts from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
: Thai general elections are held, with a record turnout of 75.22%. The competing parties cover the political spectrum from the pro-democracy Move Forward Party to two parties —Thai Union and Phalang Pracharat—headed by the organizers of the 2014 coup.
: Indonesia hosts the first ASEAN Summit of the year in Labun Bajo. Myanmar is not represented.
: A flotilla of Chinese vessels enter Vietnamese waters and loiter in a Russia-Vietnam offshore lease block. A Chinese research vessel moves at a speed appropriate for surveying,