Jennifer Staats is the director of East and Southeast Asia Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where she oversees USIP’s work on Burma, China and North Korea. She joined USIP in 2016 as the director of the China Program, and she continues to lead USIP’s work on China and its impact on peace and security around the world.
 
Dr. Staats previously spent several years working in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where she concentrated on policy issues related to Asia.  At the Pentagon, she led the teams that coordinated the Department of Defense’s implementation of the U.S. Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific and developed long-term strategies for the Department. She also served as a director in the Cyber Policy Office and managed the Asian-Pacific Security Affairs portfolio for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs. Staats received several awards for her work at DoD, including the Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service.
 
Before entering government service, Staats was a fellow with the International Security Program at Harvard’s Belfer Center and a research assistant with the Preventive Defense Project chaired by Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry.  
 
She received her PhD from Harvard University, her MPA from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, and her BA from the University of the South (Sewanee). She has been named a Council on Foreign Relations Term Member, Fulbright Scholar, NSEP Boren Fellow, Javits Fellow and NCAA Postgraduate Scholar.

Publications By Jennifer

Hong Kong’s Turn to Violence Divides the Movement

Hong Kong’s Turn to Violence Divides the Movement

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

By: Jacob Stokes; Jennifer Staats ; Rachel Vandenbrink

The weeks of peaceful protests by millions of Hong Kong residents opposed to the erosion of their civil liberties turned violent Monday. After days of aggressive police crackdowns that injured protesters and drew criticism from international human rights groups, hundreds of protesters bashed through doors into the city’s legislature yesterday. USIP specialists discuss the escalation of the conflict between residents and the city’s authorities—and the implications for one of the territory’s largest protest movements since Britain handed it over to Chinese control two decades ago.

Democracy & Governance; Nonviolent Action

Where Does China’s Belt and Road Initiative Stand Six Years Later?

Where Does China’s Belt and Road Initiative Stand Six Years Later?

Thursday, April 25, 2019

By: Jennifer Staats

Few projects illustrate the risks of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) better than the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka. In 2017, unsustainable debt loads drove Colombo to give China a 99-year lease and controlling equity stake in the Hambantota port, while local communities protested the loss of sovereignty and international observers worried about China’s strategic intentions. The Hambantota case may be an outlier, but it has become a “canary in the coalmine,” and a warning sign to other BRI participants about what their future may hold. Increasingly, countries around the world are taking steps to reassert their influence over BRI projects—and Beijing has taken note.

Economics & Environment; Global Policy

India-Pakistan Tensions Test China’s Relationships, Crisis Management Role

India-Pakistan Tensions Test China’s Relationships, Crisis Management Role

Thursday, March 7, 2019

By: Jacob Stokes; Jennifer Staats

The latest India-Pakistan crisis has put China in a difficult position, as it tries to balance its relationships with both countries, while helping to stave off a conflict and demonstrate its ability to manage and resolve crises. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke to leaders in both Pakistan and India last week, urging them to practice restraint and find a way to deescalate the situation. Despite Pakistan’s request for China to play a more active role, competing priorities constrained the degree to which Beijing could lead—highlighting a chronic challenge for Chinese diplomacy in South Asia. China’s decision to keep a low profile is likely deliberate and in keeping with longstanding practice, but it is inconsistent with Beijing’s aspirations to lead in Asian crisis diplomacy.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

What Does the Singapore Summit Mean for South Korea, China and Japan?

What Does the Singapore Summit Mean for South Korea, China and Japan?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

By: Frank Aum; Jennifer Staats ; Ambassador Joseph Yun

The June 12 summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was a watershed moment in relations between Washington and Pyongyang. But, the more immediate and profound impact will be felt in East Asia, where North Korea’s nuclear program has threatened regional stability and security. While South Korea, China and Japan have different—sometimes starkly so—interests and positions vis-à-vis North Korea, all three of the Asian powers will be important players in efforts to implement the pledges made in Singapore. USIP’s Ambassador Joseph Yun, Jennifer Staats and Frank Aum discuss the implications for Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo.

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

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