FORGET The Emperor: From now on it's Premier Sputnik. Premier Colin Barnett last night gave US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and others who attended the launch of the Perth USAsia Centre a laugh by recounting the days when he wanted to be called Sputnik.

Mr Barnett said one of his memories as a child was the Soviet Union launching its first artificial satellite into orbit - Sputnik.

''I insisted in being called Sputnik,'' he told the crowd.

''I would answer to no other name.''

The Barnett and federal governments have contributed towards the establishment of a $10 million Perth USAsia Centre at the University of Western Australia.

The institution will aim to strengthen ties between the United States, Australia and Asian regions.

It will be a ''leading policy think tank'', on the Australia-Asia US strategic and economic relationship, a teaching and research centre and a conduit for a deeper Australian understanding of US business, culture, history, politics and foreign policy.

Mrs Clinton is in Perth for the annual Australia-United States Ministerial meetings.

She flew into WA yesterday amid massive security.

Mrs Clinton said being in Perth was a ''dream come true'', saying that like Mr Barnett she too had a fascination with space as a child and loved the story of how Perth residents had turned the lights on for John Glenn - the first American to orbit Earth in 1962.

She said that just as Perth had played an important role in space exploration, it would now play a vital role in Australia and America's economic and cultural future in Asia through the establishment of the Perth USAsia Centre.

''He (John Glenn) never forgot the gesture of friendship from this city of lights,'' Mrs Clinton said.

''So for me to be here is a dream come true.

''And I suppose if one would go into space and look down on Perth today it would see a city that is sitting on a very strategic part of our planet.

''Increasingly these waters are an important part of the global economy and a key focus of America's expansion in the region - our pivot to Asia.

''How we think about the Asia-Pacific region is going to be critical to our future as well as yours.

''Here at the University of Western Australia you are at the leading edge of a crucial strategic shift.

''I hope the work you do here will come to mark the way, just as Perth did for for John Glenn 50 years ago.''