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Pentagon chief: China is becoming increasingly aggressive in its territorial claims

The United States will do its part to manage tensions with China and prevent conflict even though Beijing is becoming increasingly aggressive in the Asian region, including near Taiwan, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Saturday, Reuters reported.

Relations between China and the United States have been tense in recent months, with the world's two largest economies clashing over everything from Taiwan and China's human rights record to its military activity in the South China Sea.

At a meeting between Austin and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on Friday, both sides reiterated they want to better manage their relationship although there was no sign of any breakthrough in resolving differences.

Addressing the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's premier security gathering, Austin said the United States would continue to stand by its allies, including Taiwan.

"That's especially important as the PRC (People's Republic of China) adopts a more coercive and aggressive approach to its territorial claims," he said.

Austin said there had been an "alarming" increase in the number of unsafe and unprofessional encounters between Chinese planes and vessels with those of other countries.

Austin said that the United States' policy on Taiwan was to remain opposed to any unilateral changes to the status quo.

"Our policy hasn't changed. But unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be true for the PRC," Austin said.

"We do not seek confrontation or conflict. And we do not seek a new Cold War, an Asian NATO, or a region split into hostile blocs," he said.