The Shangri-La Dialogue held in Singapore saw shots being traded back and forth by the United States and China as the Chinese continue to be aggressive in the Indo-Pacific, with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin expressing support for the island nation of Taiwan amid threats and aggression from the Chinese military.

In Austin’s remarks during the event, the Defense Secretary did not mince any of his words when referring to issues relating to China and Taiwan. These two countries have been increasingly hostile toward one another as China asserts its claim that Taipei is a definitive part of China.

“We’ll also stand by our friends as they uphold their rights. That’s especially important as the PRC adopts a more coercive and aggressive approach to its territorial claims,” he said.

He expressed that the “stakes are stark” when speaking about the Taiwan Strait. These statements from Austin did not only come after continued Chinese aggression along the strait but also after new security agreements with the Solomon Islands after the Solomons turned away from its pro-Taiwanese stance.

“In the East China Sea, the PRC’s expanding fishing fleet is sparking tensions with its neighbors. In the South China Sea, the PRC is using outposts on man-made islands bristling with advanced weaponry to advance its illegal maritime claims,” Austin explained, adding that the Chinese were plundering other countries’ maritime provisions as they operate illegally within the respective territorial waters of Indo-Pacific countries.