U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has reiterated Washington’s commitment to its allies, partners and like-minded countries in the Indo-Pacific region — which he labeled the "center of strategic gravity" — amid concerns that a crisis similar to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could erupt in Asia.

In a speech held Saturday at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Austin singled out the situation in the Taiwan Strait, reiterating that while Washington does not support Taiwanese independence, it is seeing “growing coercion from Beijing."

"We've witnessed a steady increase in provocative and destabilizing military activity near Taiwan,” Austin said. “We remain focused on maintaining peace, stability and the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. But the moves threaten to undermine security and stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.”