DPG Indo-Pacific Monitor

Indo-Pacific Monitor

Date: June 01, 2024
Four Indo-Pacific nations witnessed leadership changes during the month.  In the Solomon Islands, Jeremiah Manele of the ruling OUR Party became the Prime Minister on May 02, taking over from Manasseh Sogavare.  Lawrence Wong was sworn in as Singapore’s fourth Prime Minister on May 15; his predecessor Lee Hsein Loong remained in the cabinet.  In Vietnam, Truong Thi Mai, the head of the Central Organisation Commission of the Communist Party of Vietnam was forced to resign from the Politburo for unspecified violations and shortcomings.  In Taiwan, Lai Ching-te of the ruling DPP was inaugurated as Taiwan’s 16th President on May 20. 

Five summit-level meetings took place during the month.  In the first, Japan’s Prime Minister, visiting France for the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting, met President Macron on May 2. China’s President Xi Jinping made his third State Visit to France from May 06-07.  Russia’s President Vladimir Putin visited Beijing from May 16-17.On May 23, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Dato Seri Anwar bin Ibrahim met Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo.  On May 26-27, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and China’s Prime Minister Li Qiang travelled to Seoul for the first Trilateral Summit in over four years.

Defence and Foreign ministers from Australia and South Korea met in Melbourne on May 01 for the Sixth Australia-ROK 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.  Defence Ministers from Japan, Australia and the US met in Hawaii on May 02 for the Trilateral Defence Ministers’ Meeting.  Immediately thereafter, the Philippines’ Defence Secretary joined them for the Pacific Quad (nicknamed SQUAD) Defence Ministers’ Meeting, in Hawaii.  The Defence Ministers also attended the change of command ceremony in Hawaii on May 03, when Admiral Samuel Paparo took over as the 27th Commander of the Indo-Pacific Command.

Australia unveiled a defence budget of over AUD 58 billion (about $ 38.93 billion), or about 2.03% of GDP for 2024-25.  It also announced that this would rise to 2.3% of the GDP over a five-year period.  On May 28, Australia announced the names of design partners for its new SSN production yard, marking another milestone in the long road to the AUKUS submarine.

Representatives of Adani Ports, India’s largest port operator, met Philippines President Marcos on May 03, seeking to develop Bataan Port in the Philippines.  India and Iran signed a 10-year contract for the development and operation of the Shahid Beheshti Terminal at Iran’s Chabahar port on May 13. 

Ships from India’s Eastern Fleet proceeded on their annual South China Sea deployment, visiting Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei during the month.

Confrontation between the China and the Philippines in the South China Sea continued, with the former preventing attempts to resupply Philippine personnel in the Scarborough and Second Thomas Shoals using collisions and water cannon.  China’s fourth aircraft carrier, Fujian, commenced sea trials.  China launched what were billed as punishment war games around Taiwan on May 24-25 in response to the new President’s inaugural address.

The Red Sea crisis continued, with Yemen’s Houthi rebels using a variety of missiles and drones to disrupt traffic flow.  Notably, at least two merchant vessels hit by Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles suffered no casualties and were able to continue their voyage under own power, calling into question the destructiveness of these missiles.

These and other developments are covered in this Indo-Pacific Monitor Vol. V, Issue 5.  To read, please see the PDF attached.