Roberto Tofani

Roberto Tofani is a freelance journalist and analyst covering South East Asia, particularly Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. He is also the co-founder of PlanetNext.net, an association of journalists committed to the concept of "informationfor change" and editor of Sudestasiatico.com. Tofani holds a master's degree in peacekeeping and security studies from Roma Tre University.

Articles written by Roberto Tofani

Cambodia Highlights Challenges to U.S. Asia Pivot

By Roberto Tofani
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U.S. President Barack Obama's trip to Cambodia in mid-November was portrayed as a success by the media, marking the first time since the Vietnam War-era bombings in the 1970s that an American president landed in Phnom Penh. However, Cambodia’s stance within ASEAN on the territorial disputes in the South China Sea highlights the challenges facing the new American strategic commitment to the region. more

Western Engagement Risks Outpacing Reform in Myanmar

By Roberto Tofani
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The recent reform process in Myanmar has underlined the remarkable political skill of the government that came to power after the country’s 2010 elections. Since December, despite lingering reservations, Western governments have been scrambling to adapt their policies to the rapid pace of change. Now the gathering pace of Western engagement risks outrunning Myanmar’s commitment to reform. more

For Regional Powers, Economic Interests Trump Principled Policy in Myanmar

By Roberto Tofani
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In 2011, Myanmar astonished the international community with a series of political openings that led even U.S. President Barack Obama to see "flickers of progress." The moves seem to have launched a regional race among the country's neighbors for gaining a "special relationship" with the former pariah state, but it is doubtful that increased economic engagement will strengthen Myanmar's nascent democracy. more

Myanmar Policy: U.S. Vision, EU Shortsightedness in Asia-Pacific

By Roberto Tofani
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Last week’s historic visit to Myanmar by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton represents the culmination of the Obama administration's policy shift toward the pariah state, itself part of a broader effort to play a primary role in the Asia-Pacific region. By contrast, the European Union appears to follow the U.S. lead without policy debates within the union. EU policy toward Myanmar is a case in point. more

East Asia Summit: U.S. and China, With ASEAN in the Middle

By Roberto Tofani
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Last weekend’s East Asia Summit in Bali, Indonesia, made at least one thing clear: The Obama administration has managed to mend the rift with the member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations that emerged under President George W. Bush. In this context, China appears to have been left politically diminished, even as economic and trade relations in the region reflect an opposite trend. more

Myanmar Opens to the West to Offset Chinese Pressure

By Roberto Tofani
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Authorities in Myanmar have made a series of moves that some have interpreted as a new course under the government of President Thein Sein, including the suspension of a  Chinese-sponsored dam project and a massive prisoner amnesty. Yet, with these moves, the government seems to be searching more for ways to ease China’s political and economic influence than for avenues of democratic reform. more

Thailand-Cambodia Tensions Reveal ASEAN's Limitations

By Roberto Tofani
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A deadly clash between Thai and Cambodian troops along the border near the Preah Vihear temple has renewed long-running tension between the two Southeast Asian neighbors. The fresh conflict poses a serious threat to bilateral relations and could be exploited in domestic leadership struggles. The dispute has also revealed the limitations of the Association of South East Asia Nations. more

For Vietnam, Sustainable Development a Growing Challenge

By Roberto Tofani
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As the 11th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam opens in Hanoi on Jan. 12, the country is at a crossroads in terms of its future development trajectory and, possibly, its international posture. The nine-day gathering will finalize a document that will set the tone for Vietnam's 2011-2020 development strategy, meant to shape the next stage in the nation's economic emergence. more

The Prospects for a U.S.-Burma Thaw

By Roberto Tofani
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The recent release of Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi could produce, as a ripple effect, a shift in the relationship between Burma and the U.S. Suu Kyi has stated that she intends to pursue reconciliation with the junta. This, in turn, could suit Washington's softening stance toward the regime. The approach, however, assumes that the junta will continue to maintain a period of relative political calm. more