Jennifer Staats is the director of East and Southeast Asia Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace. 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. She also oversees USIP’s program in Myanmar, as well as the Institute’s work on Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania.

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 has also lived, worked, and studied in both China and Germany.

Staats received her doctoral degree from Harvard University, her master's from Princeton University, and her bachelor's 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, Rosenthal Fellow, NCAA Postgraduate Scholar, and Public Intellectuals Program Fellow and member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

Publications By Jennifer

Is China Getting Serious About Crime on the ‘Belt and Road’?

Is China Getting Serious About Crime on the ‘Belt and Road’?

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

By: Jason Tower; Jennifer Staats

As China’s leading foreign policy project, its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) should be easy to understand. Yet since its inception in 2013, the BRI has remained remarkably opaque. The government publishes no criteria for approving BRI projects or comprehensive lists of authorized ones. Consequently, a range of Chinese investors—including some linked to organized crime—claim an association with the signature program of China’s leader, Xi Jinping. In host countries, this free-riding identification can threaten governance and stability, while further damaging the international community’s ability to check the spread of related criminal activity.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment; Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Beijing Builds Global Support for Draconian Hong Kong Law

Beijing Builds Global Support for Draconian Hong Kong Law

Thursday, July 16, 2020

By: Jennifer Staats ; Rachel Vandenbrink

China’s new national security legislation went into effect in Hong Kong late on June 30, giving Beijing new tools to control public discourse in the city, eliminating freedom of speech, mandating digital surveillance, and granting China extraterritorial powers to enforce the new law. In response, the United States has revoked Hong Kong’ special economic status and joined other democracies in condemning the law. Yet, a number of other countries have voiced their support for the legislation. By building a coalition of support for the new national security law, Beijing is not only tightening its grip on Hong Kong, but also trying to delegitimize critiques of China’s own domestic policies or system of government and strengthen global opposition to democratic values and the notion of universal human rights.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy; Democracy & Governance

China’s Belt and Road: Progress on ‘Open, Green and Clean?’

China’s Belt and Road: Progress on ‘Open, Green and Clean?’

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

By: Jason Tower; Jennifer Staats

A year ago, Chinese leaders committed themselves to cleaning up their act in pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—Beijing’s plan to connect China to the world largely through infrastructure projects. The BRI had become synonymous with environmental degradation, corruption, and lack of transparency, and China’s top officials pledged new approaches. The Belt and Road Initiative, they said, would become “open, green, and clean” as it worked with partner countries to build public works, deepen trade linkages, and advance financial and development policy connections around the world.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment

A Peace Regime for the Korean Peninsula

A Peace Regime for the Korean Peninsula

Monday, February 3, 2020

By: Frank Aum; Jacob Stokes; Patricia M. Kim; Atman M. Trivedi; Rachel Vandenbrink; Jennifer Staats ; Ambassador Joseph Yun

A joint statement by the United States and North Korea in June 2018 declared that the two countries were committed to building “a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.” Such a peace regime will ultimately require the engagement and cooperation of not just North Korea and the United States, but also South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan. This report outlines the perspectives and interests of each of these countries as well as the diplomatic, security, and economic components necessary for a comprehensive peace.

Type: Peaceworks

Global Policy

Xi Jinping’s Visit to Myanmar: What Are the Implications?

Xi Jinping’s Visit to Myanmar: What Are the Implications?

Thursday, January 23, 2020

By: Jason Tower; Jennifer Staats

From January 17-18, the chairman of China’s Communist Party, Xi Jinping, travelled to Myanmar to promote bilateral ties and advance construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC). The visit saw the two sides commit to an ambitious economic agenda and building what China terms a “community of shared destiny.” The declarations of cooperation, however, failed to provide any clarity on how CMEC will address the countless questions and concerns that Myanmar has struggled with since its independence in 1948—issues likely to profoundly affect the two countries’ joint endeavors.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

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