Austin vows to bolster security alliances in Indo-Pacific to counter China

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has vowed to bolster his country's security alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region in a bid to counter China's growing military presence.

Austin delivered a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore on Saturday.

The gathering, which opened on Friday, brought together defense chiefs and other senior government officials from Asia and beyond.

Austin said the US commitment to the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific has grown over the years. He referred to the region as "our center of strategic gravity," and went on to say, "No region will do more to set the trajectory of the 21st century than this one."

Austin accused China of adopting "a more coercive and aggressive approach to its territorial claims."

He said, "We've seen an alarming increase in the number of unsafe aerial intercepts and confrontations at sea" by Chinese aircraft and vessels.

He warned that there has been "a steady increase in provocative and destabilizing military activity near Taiwan."

Austin stressed that the US policy is unchanged and unwavering. He said, "We categorically oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side." He added, "We do not support Taiwan independence."

He reiterated America's commitment to assisting Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability.

Austin called the US security alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific "a profound source of stability." He said, "Our integrated deterrence in the region will continue to center on our ties with our proud treaty allies," including Australia and Japan.