“Persuading Pariahs” was Pacific Affairs’ #1 most downloaded research article of 2016! NOW FREE!

“Persuading Pariahs: Myanmar’s Strategic Decision to Pursue Reform and Opening”, by Jonathan T. Chow and Leif-Eric Easley, was the #1 most downloaded research article from Pacific Affairs in 2016!

Access the article via Ingenta (UPDATE: NOW FOR FREE!)


Myanmar’s liberalizing reforms since late 2010 have effectively shed the country’s decades-long “pariah state” status. This article evaluates competing explanations for why Myanmar’s leaders made the strategic decision to pursue reform and opening. We examine whether the strategic decision was motivated by fears of sudden regime change, by socialization into the norms of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), or by the geopolitics of overreliance on China. Drawing on newly available materials and recent field interviews in Myanmar, we demonstrate how difficult it is for international actors to persuade a pariah state through sanctions or engagement, given the pariah regime’s intense focus on maintaining power. However, reliance on a more powerful neighbour can reach a point where costs to national autonomy become unacceptable, motivating reforms for the sake of economic and diplomatic diversification.

Keywords: Myanmar/Burma, China, ASEAN, sanctions, pariah states,
authoritarian transitions, Aung San Suu Kyi

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5509/2016893521

Interview with TDM’s “Telejornal” on North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program

I was interviewed on Teledifusão Macau’s “Telejornal” regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, along with former Portuguese Ambassador to South Korea Carlos Frota and my colleague Professor Rodney Bruce Hall from the University of Macau.

The segment aired last night and should be viewable at: http://portugues.tdm.com.mo/pvideo.php?vid=12122.

At the moment, the stream doesn’t seem to be working, but it is accessible on mobile.

1.) Visit mobile.tdm.com.mo
2.) Click “TV Noticias”
3.) Click “Telejornal”
4.) Click 2017-05-19
5.) The segment starts at the 8-minute mark.

Please note that although the report and Ambassador Frota’s remarks are in Portuguese, my remarks and Professor Hall’s are in English.

“A New Chapter in Myanmar-Vatican Relations” published by The Diplomat

The Diplomat has just published my article on Myanmar and the Vatican’s establishment of diplomatic relations. I discuss how rapprochement with Myanmar reflects the Vatican’s broader diplomatic push in Asia and how closer relations with the Vatican could benefit Myanmar’s relations with ethnic minority groups. I also explain how Pope Francis’s decision to give Aung San Suu Kyi his World Peace Day message suggests how the Church’s newly established organization for promoting integrated human development could help Myanmar forge peace with ethnic armed groups.