The Trump administration has articulated a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ strategy as the new modus operandi for the United States' policy on Asia, but is it a useful organising concept? In the build up to the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's premier security summit, panellists analysed how this new strategy might be operationalised and discussed its potential effects on US relationships in the region.

Ambassador Katrina Cooper has served as the Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States at the Australian Embassy since October 2017. Prior to her current role, Ambassador Cooper served as Senior Legal Adviser in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, with oversight of international and domestic legal issues. From 2008–12, she served as Australia's first female Ambassador to Mexico. During that time, she was also accredited as Ambassador to Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Panama.

Dr Amy Searight is Senior Advisor and Director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. From 2014–16, Searight served in the Department of Defense (DoD) as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia. Prior to that appointment, she served as Principal Director for East Asian security at DoD and as Senior Adviser for Asia at USAID. She has also served on the policy planning staff and as Special Adviser for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in the State Department as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow.

Dr Michael D. Swaine is Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and one of the most prominent American analysts in Chinese security studies. Formerly a Senior Policy Analyst at the RAND Corporation, Swaine is a specialist in Chinese defence and foreign policy, US–China relations, and East Asian international relations. He has authored and edited more than a dozen books and monographs. Swaine directs several security-related projects with Chinese partners and advises the US government on Asian security issues.

This event was chaired by Mark Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, IISS–Americas.


Mark Fitzpatrick

Mark Fitzpatrick is the Executive Director of the IISS–Americas, as well as head of the IISS Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme. He joined IISS in 2005, after 26 years at the State Department, and moved back to Washington in December 2015. His research focus is on preventing nuclear dangers through non-proliferation, nuclear security, and arms control. Follow Mark Fitzpatrick @FitzpatrickIISS.

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Event details

Wednesday 16 May, 2–3pm EDT
IISS–Americas, Washington DC
Ambassador Katrina Cooper, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Australia to the United States
Dr Amy Searight, Senior Advisor and Director, Southeast Asia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Dr Michael D. Swaine, Senior Fellow, Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Mark Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, IISS–Americas