Derek J. Mitchell is Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs. Until April 2009, Mr. Mitchell served as senior fellow and director for the Asia Division of the International Security Program (ISP), Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), having joined the Center in January 2001. He concurrently served as director of the CSIS Southeast Asia Initiative, which was inaugurated in January 2008 and is the Center’s first dedicated program to the study of Southeast Asian affairs.
Mitchell was special assistant for Asian and Pacific affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 1997 to 2001, when he served alternately as senior country director for China, Taiwan, Mongolia, and Hong Kong (2000–2001), director for regional security affairs (1998–2000), country director for Japan (1997–1998), and senior country director for the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore (1998–1999).
He was the principal author of the Department of Defense (DoD) 1998 East Asia Strategy Report. He received the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Exceptional Public Service in January 2001.
Prior to joining DoD, Mitchell served as senior program officer for Asia and the former Soviet Union at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in Washington, D.C. From 1993 to 1997, he developed the institute’s long-term approach to Asia and worked on democratic development programs in Armenia, Burma, Cambodia, Georgia, Pakistan, and Thailand. In 1989, he worked as an editor and reporter at the China Post on Taiwan. From 1986 to 1988, he served as assistant to the senior foreign policy adviser to Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Mitchell received a master of arts in law and diplomacy degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1991 and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in 1986. He studied Chinese language at Nanjing University in China and speaks Mandarin Chinese proficiently. He has authored numerous books, articles, and opinion pieces on Asian security affairs, and is coauthor of China: The Balance Sheet—What the World Needs to Know Now about the Emerging Superpower (Public Affairs, 2006), and China’s Rise: Challenges and Opportunities (Peterson Institute for International Economics Press, 2008).