Brian Harding joined the U.S. Institute of Peace in May 2020 as a senior expert on Southeast Asia. He comes to USIP with more than 15 years of experience in Southeast Asian affairs in government, think tanks, and the private sector.

Prior to joining USIP, Harding was deputy director of the Southeast Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he managed a range of projects focused on Southeast Asia’s political economy and U.S.-Southeast Asia relations.

Previously, he was director for East and Southeast Asia policy at the Center for American Progress, where he led an expansion of the their work on Southeast Asia and Japan.

From 2009 to 2013, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon as country director for Asian and Pacific security affairs. There, he managed defense relations with major U.S. partners in Southeast Asia and Oceania and played an instrumental role in several high-profile defense policy initiatives, including agreements to station U.S. Marines in Darwin, Australia, and littoral combat ships in Singapore.

In the private sector, Harding has advised many of the world’s most prominent companies and financial institutions on political risk and leadership dynamics in Southeast Asia, including in roles at Eurasia Group and Monitor 360.

Harding holds degrees from Middlebury College and The George Washington University and has studied at universities in Yogyakarta, Indonesia and Kyoto, Japan. In Southeast Asia, he has also been a Fulbright research fellow in Indonesia and taught English in Nong Khai, Thailand.

Publications By Brian

Thailand’s Political Protests Wade into Unprecedented Territory

Thailand’s Political Protests Wade into Unprecedented Territory

Thursday, September 3, 2020

By: Brian Harding

Thailand’s recent protests have burgeoned into a powerful movement that is challenging the country’s longstanding social and political orders. Along with calls for democratic and constitutional reform, many Thai youth and activists have begun openly criticizing the monarchy’s role in public life—something that has long been unthinkable in a country where the monarchy plays a central role in society. USIP’s Brian Harding examines what sparked these unprecedented demonstrations, the resistance protesters have faced from Thailand’s powerful military and government, and where the movement might lead.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance; Nonviolent Action

Tensions Rise as Washington Rejects Beijing’s Maritime Claims

Tensions Rise as Washington Rejects Beijing’s Maritime Claims

Thursday, July 23, 2020

By: Brian Harding; Vikram J. Singh

Based on what Beijing calls “historic rights,” China claims vast swaths of the South China Sea, including waters and features also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei. With no reference to international law, China’s “nine-dash-line” encompasses 80 percent of the South China Sea reaching as far south as more than 1,000 nautical miles from the China’s coast, within 50 nautical miles of Malaysia. Within these waters lie features occupied by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Taiwan, including three artificial islands that China built in 2012 and has since developed into military bases.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Is Coronavirus Making Southeast Asia More Authoritarian?

Is Coronavirus Making Southeast Asia More Authoritarian?

Thursday, June 18, 2020

By: Brian Harding

Southeast Asia has emerged as the regional fulcrum of strategic competition between the United States and China in the Indo-Pacific, with both the Washington and Beijing aggressively competing for influence in the 10 countries that comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This attention is well-placed, as the decisions that these countries make shape power dynamics in the broader region, influence global norms from internet governance to minority rights, and are determining along which lines the world’s most dynamic regional economy integrates.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance; Global Health

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