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

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

Myanmar Coup: The International Shockwaves Have Just Begun

Myanmar Coup: The International Shockwaves Have Just Begun

Thursday, March 18, 2021

By: Jason Tower

Myanmar has collapsed into horrific violence since the military sought to retake full control of the country on February 1. Western governments have watched in distress as soldiers rounded up civilian leaders including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, restricted internet access, rolled back individual freedoms and ultimately employed violence against the people. These domestic effects of the coup have been widely noted. USIP’s Jason Tower examines here the less discussed international security repercussions, the response of regional actors and options for preventing mass atrocities in the coming weeks.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Myanmar Elections 2020: Ethnic Tensions and a Military Hand

Myanmar Elections 2020: Ethnic Tensions and a Military Hand

Saturday, November 7, 2020

By: Jason Tower

The ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) is expected to win Myanmar’s general elections on November 8, but the 2020 race is much more hotly contested than 2015. The growing political frustration of the country’s non-Burma ethnic nationalities is fueling insurgencies and the military-affiliated Union Solidarity and Development Party, and its armed forces patrons, are criticizing the government and attacking the country’s feeble electoral institutions. The way Myanmar’s ethnic nationalities experience the process will have major implications for peacemaking efforts moving forward.   

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance; Electoral Violence

Election Cancellations in Rakhine State Could Signal Trouble for Myanmar

Election Cancellations in Rakhine State Could Signal Trouble for Myanmar

Thursday, November 5, 2020

By: Priscilla A. Clapp; Jason Tower

On October 16, when it took the stunning and sweeping decision to cancel most of the vote in Rakhine State on November 8, the Union Election Commission (UEC) disenfranchised an estimated 73% of Rakhine voters, in addition to the Rohingya who had been stripped of voting rights in 2015. The UEC justified its decision on the grounds that the election could be neither free nor fair because of ongoing armed conflict in the state. When critics asked why the elections had not been cancelled in war-stricken Paletwa, where security concerns are most acute, the UEC called off elections in parts of that Chin State town and restored them in a few village tracts in Rakhine.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

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