US - Southeast Asia

Chronology from Sep 2016 to Dec 2016

: 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.”

: 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.

: 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.”

: 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.

: 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.

: 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.”

: 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.

:  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.

:  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.

:  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.

:  Philippines suspends its South China Sea exclusive economic zone (EEZ) patrols.

: 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.

:  Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana states “we can live without” US assistance.

:  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.

: 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 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.”

: 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.

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