US - Southeast Asia

Chronology from Sep 2021 to Dec 2021

: Indonesia invites officials in charge of maritime security in five other ASEAN states—Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam—to a meeting in February to foster a coordinated approach in matters related to the South China Sea.

: President Biden signs 2022 National Defense Authorization Bill into law, which stipulates that the US will “support and legitimize” the National Unity Government in Myanmar.

: Myanmar military attacks village of Mo So in Kayah State, killing 25 civilians. Among the burned bodies were several women and children and two international aid workers.

: Bipartisan group of US House Members send a letter to President Biden urging him to name an ambassador to ASEAN; there has been no Senate-confirmed ambassador in that post since 2017.

: Secretary of State Antony Blinken makes first trip to Southeast Asia in his capacity as secretary, visiting Indonesia and Malaysia. Just prior to his departure Blinken added Thailand to his itinerary but was forced to cancel that leg of the trip when a reporter traveling with the delegation tested positive for COVID.

: Thailand’s Chief of Defense Forces Gen. Chalermpol Srisawasdi visits the US and meets with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Assistant Secretary of Defense Ely Rather.

: Biden hosts the first-ever Summit for Democracy, to which only four Southeast Asian countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Timor L’este—are invited.

: Wunna Maung Lwin, Myanmar’s military-appointed foreign minister, visits Cambodia for talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen, a day after the junta drew international condemnation for sentencing NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi to prison.

: In a military trial, Aung San Suu Kyi and former Myanmar President Win Myint are found guilty of incitement and breaking COVID regulations. Suu Kyi is sentenced to four years in prison, but the sentence is reduced to two years.

: China and Laos officially open the China-Lao Rail Link, which runs from Kunming to Vientiane.

: United Nations Credentials Committee defers a decision on representation for Afghanistan and Myanmar, meaning that the Afghan Taliban and the Myanmar junta will not be permitted in the UN unless and until the Committee rules otherwise.

: President Xi Jinping and the Sultan of Brunei co-host a virtual ASEAN-China Summit and announce that China and ASEAN will elevate their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

: United States and Indonesia complete 19th Indonesia-US Security Dialogue at the Pentagon. The dialogue was led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Lindsey Ford and Maj. Gen. Rodon Pedrason, director-general of Defense Strategy for the Indonesian Ministry of Defense.

: Philippines Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin conveys “outrage and condemnation” to Beijing after Chinese vessels use water cannons to block two Filipino supply ships from heading to Second Thomas Shoal. Locsin warned China that the vessels are covered under the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty.

: Richardson returns to Myanmar to meet with Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and to negotiate the release of Danny Fenster, a US journalist who had been detained following the February coup.

: Bill Richardson, former US ambassador to the United Nations, visits Myanmar on a private humanitarian mission to encourage the regime to allow the distribution of aid and to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, he secures the release from prison of Aye Moe, a former employee of the Richardson Center for Human Rights.

: Brunei hosts 2021 East Asia Summit online. The group adopts joint resolutions on economic recovery and public health, particularly related to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

: President Biden co-hosts a virtual US-ASEAN Summit with Bruneian Sultan Haji Hassanai Baikiah and pledges to strengthen the US-ASEAN Strategic Partnership with $100 million in new funding, primarily for public health and environmental projects.

: ASEAN holds its online 38th and 39th Summits back-to-back, having deferred the first summit of the year because of the COVID pandemic.

: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appoints Singaporean Noelene Heyzer as UN Special Envoy to Myanmar, replacing Christine Schraner-Burgener.

: State Department Counsellor Derek Chollet travels to Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia to follow up on issues discussed during the August visit to the region by Vice President Kamala Harris and, in particular, to consult with regional leaders on the ASEAN Five Point Plan for Myanmar.

: ASEAN Special Envoy for Myanmar Erywan Yusof cancels his planned trip to Myanmar after the junta refuses access to Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of the National League for Democracy under detention.

: Southeast Asian leaders express disappointment and concern after US Trade Representative Katherine Tai says that the Biden administration will retain some tariffs on China and that progress on US-China trade talks is slow, due primarily to enforcement problems.

: President Biden and his counterparts in Australia, India, and Japan hold the first-ever in-person Leaders Summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue in Washington.

: China announces that it will seek entry into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, concurrent with a parallel announcement by Taiwan.

: President Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announce establishment of the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) “enhanced trilateral security partnership,” which draws a mixed reaction in Southeast Asia.

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