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

U.S.-ASEAN Summit: A Chance to Explore New Steps to Resolve Myanmar’s Conflict

U.S.-ASEAN Summit: A Chance to Explore New Steps to Resolve Myanmar’s Conflict

Thursday, May 12, 2022

By: Priscilla A. Clapp;  Jason Tower

The February 2021 coup in Myanmar, which overthrew an elected government and installed a brutal military dictatorship, has posed an enormous challenge to the Association of Southeast Asian States (ASEAN). The group has split on what — if any — action to take regarding the coup. Meanwhile, the military’s unbridled violence against the country’s citizens failed to suppress an increasingly militarized opposition and the conflict now affects ASEAN states bordering Myanmar and those beyond. As the U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit gets underway this week in Washington, Myanmar will not be present, a symbol that the organization — as a whole— does not accept the coup government’s legitimacy. What’s next remains to be seen.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyDemocracy & Governance

Ukraine Crisis Prompts China to Swing Behind Myanmar’s Junta

Ukraine Crisis Prompts China to Swing Behind Myanmar’s Junta

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

By: Jason Tower

After a year of tentative ties with Myanmar’s democratic opposition, China this month dropped all pretension of hedging its bets and ramped up support for the military regime. Beijing framed its decisive economic and political move in part as a response to the “Ukraine crisis,” hinting that Russian backing for the junta may wane on the heels of Moscow’s stumbles in Ukraine, forcing China to fill the gap. With China bringing increasing pressure on Southeast Asian states to follow its lead in legitimizing Myanmar’s dictatorship, all parties in the region, and those with interests in it, will have to rethink their Myanmar strategies.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyDemocracy & Governance

Three Priorities for U.S.-Thailand Cooperation in Myanmar

Three Priorities for U.S.-Thailand Cooperation in Myanmar

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

By: Brian Harding;  Jason Tower

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was forced to cut short his first trip to Southeast Asia this week, scrapping plans to meet with Thai officials due to COVID-19 concerns. That talks with Thailand, specifically, were put on hold is an unfortunate development. Because while Blinken’s agenda for the trip was wide-ranging, the crisis in Myanmar was at the top of his list. And with a nearly 1500-mile border and close ties with Myanmar’s military junta, Thailand has the greatest stake in Myanmar’s future among ASEAN countries. As the world discusses a strategy for addressing the crisis in Myanmar, Thailand’s potential influence — especially with respect to humanitarian access — could prove consequential. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Fragility & ResilienceGlobal Health

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