Singapore: US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said Saturday the Indo-Pacific region remained a "priority" for Washington, saying the United States was secure "only if Asia is".

Lloyd made the remarks at a major security forum in Singapore, a day after he met with his Chinese counterpart Dong Jun.

"The United States can be secure only if Asia is and that's why the United States has long maintained its presence in this region," Austin told the Shangri-La Dialogue, which in recent years has become a barometer for US-China relations.

Despite the conflicts in Europe and the Middle East, the Indo-Pacific "remained our priority theatre of operations" for the United States, Austin said.

The United States is seeking to strengthen alliances and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly with the Philippines, as it seeks to counter China's growing military might and influence.

As it deepens defence ties, it has also ramped up joint military exercises and regularly deploys warships and fighter jets in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea -- infuriating China's leaders.

This year's Shangri-La Dialogue comes a week after China held military drills around self-ruled Taiwan and warned of war over the US-backed island following the inauguration of President Lai Ching-te, who Beijing has described as a "dangerous separatist".

China is also furious over the United States' strengthening defence ties in the region.

This report is auto-generated from a syndicated feed