Jonathan SpanglerJonathan Spangler is the Director of the South China Sea Think Tank and a Doctoral Fellow with the Institute of European and American Studies at Academia Sinica. His research focuses on the effects of actor involvement on escalation and deescalation in maritime territorial disputes. He is also a mountain search and rescue trainee, a trail runner, and a founding member of the Taiwan Peak-to-Peak Trail Project. Raised in Boulder, Colorado, he has spent the past eight years living in East Asia.


Currently, my research focuses on the effects of state involvement on escalation and deescalation in the South China Sea maritime territorial disputes. More broadly, I am interested in geopolitical and diplomatic interaction between countries in the Asia-Pacific region, traditional and non-traditional security, and Taiwan’s unique and significant role in global relations.

Having lived in Taiwan, China, and the United States, I have developed a great love and respect for the people and cultures of all three places, and this appreciation for the similarities and differences between them guides me in much of my academic research and publication.

Today, I serve as the Director of the South China Sea Think Tank, an organization dedicated to promoting dialogue, research, and education about the South China Sea. I am also a Doctoral Fellow with the Institute of European and American Studies at Academia Sinica, where I am completing my dissertation. My curriculum vitae and a few of my publications can be found here on this site.


Apart from my professional pursuits, I am an aspiring yet unmistakably amateur adventurer. Like many who have lived in Colorado, the mountains, the sunshine, the outdoors, and the wild run through my blood.

MesaTaiwan is a rugged and mountainous island, far vaster and with a geography that offers more imposing physical and mental challenges than one might imagine. Over the past six years, it has become for me both a home and an arena for boundless exploration. I aspire and train to be a minimalist expedition runner and have always been more drawn to the personal challenges and cooperative elements of athletics and mountaineering than the competitive aspects. Mesa, my doggie companion, joins me on many of these adventures.

One of my lifelong missions is to research, scout, document, and develop a Taiwan Peak-to-Peak Trail tracing ridgelines and leading over the highest peaks from the northern to the southern tip of the island. To learn more about this project or to contribute to making it a reality, visit the website of the Taiwan Peak-to-Peak Trail Project.