Jason Tower joined USIP in late 2019 as the country director for the Burma program based in Yangon. 
 
Prior to USIP, Tower served in senior positions with several other peacebuilding organizations in China and Southeast Asia. From 2009 to 2017, he worked to establish the Beijing office of the American Friends Service Committee and initiated programming across north and southeast Asia on the impacts of cross-border investments on conflict dynamics. He also led a series of research initiatives relevant to China’s role in peacekeeping operations in East Africa and on China’s evolving role in international conflict dynamics. During this time, Tower also worked extensively in Burma on peace and security issues. From 2018 to 2019, he served as Southeast Asia program manager for the PeaceNexus Foundation, managing a portfolio of grants and partnerships in China, Burma, and Cambodia.    

Tower completed his undergraduate work in economics and international studies at St. Louis University, and his graduate studies in political science and Asian studies at the University of Michigan. He later earned a graduate certificate in company-community mediation from the Graduate School of Business at Cape Town University. He has been named a Fulbright research student, a Fulbright-Hays scholar, and a Harvard-Yenching fellow.

Tower is fluent in Mandarin and has published widely on China’s involvement in peace and security issues, with recent publications on the Belt and Road Initiative and a report based on years of experience working with Chinese corporate stakeholders.

Publications By Jason

Myanmar: China, the Coup and the Future

Myanmar: China, the Coup and the Future

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

By: Jason Tower; Priscilla A. Clapp

In making major deals with Myanmar’s military rulers, China seems to be violating its official guidance for investment abroad: Avoid conflict zones. Although Myanmar is in a state of collapse and widening rebellion, China continues to advance plans for a complex economic corridor in the country with the military unveiling steps to move ahead with big joint-venture projects. The generals’ bid to appear in control of things is obvious. China, on the other hand, seems to have fallen into a trap. Cozying up to the junta puts its investments at immediate and long-term risk and erodes its standing in regional organizations. To protect its interests, Beijing should press the junta to curb its rampant violence against the population and to restore the elected government.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment; Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Chaos in Myanmar Is China’s Nightmare

Chaos in Myanmar Is China’s Nightmare

Friday, May 28, 2021

By: Jason Tower; Priscilla A. Clapp

The suspicion that China approved the military coup against Myanmar’s elected government runs deep among Burmese resisting their new dictatorship. Perhaps proof of such meddling will emerge someday. For now, what seems clear is that China would not have chosen to knowingly embroil its interests in Myanmar in the chaos that has followed the army’s power grab. On virtually every front, from public health to national security, China now faces new threats created by the post-coup breakdown in governance and the rule of law. As these consequences come into focus, Beijing will have to decide whether to maintain its tacit acceptance of the generals’ regime or take a different policy tack to protect investments in its neighbor to the south.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment; Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Myanmar Coup Weakens Southeast Asia Security and Cooperation

Myanmar Coup Weakens Southeast Asia Security and Cooperation

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

By: Brian Harding; Jason Tower

Southeast Asian governments have reacted to the coup in Myanmar in diverse ways that reflect divergent interests. Some, such as Singapore, have condemned the generals’ violence against anti-coup protesters. Others, including Vietnam, have strategic concerns behind their limited willingness to speak out. Cambodia may believe it benefits from the takeover as international attention shifts to Myanmar. They can all agree, though, that fallout from the coup is damaging the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a time when the broader regional order is in flux.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Global Policy

China’s High-Stakes Calculations in Myanmar

China’s High-Stakes Calculations in Myanmar

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

By: Jason Tower

The ultimate outcome of Myanmar’s nine-week-old coup will affect a range of international actors — but none more than China. As Asia’s greatest power, China has strategic and economic stakes in its neighbor to the south that leave little space for genuine neutrality behind a façade of non-interference. Since February 1, Beijing has profoundly shaped the trajectory of post-coup violence and blocked international efforts to restore stability.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Global Policy

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