Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. will pursue closer ties with India as a means of countering a rising China in the Asia-Pacific region.

The call comes as China encroaches on the territorial claims of other nations in the South China Sea and following a tense standoff between Chinese and Indian troops in a border region recently.

Tillerson said the U.S. views India as a “partner” in a “strategic relationship,” while adding the U.S. would “never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society.”

He also noted that sometimes Beijing acted outside of internationally accepted legal norms, citing its encroachment into the South China Sea as an example.

The comments come ahead of a planned visit to Asia by President Donald Trump, a visit that will include a stopover in China. That will be the second meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who addressed the 19th People’s Congress this week, in which he called on China, among other priorities, to build a world-class military by 2050.

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