A top U.S. diplomat for Southeast Asia has urged Pacific island nations not to withdraw diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, warning that Chinese pressure to change Taiwan’s international standing threatens to increase the possibility of conflict.

U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for Southeast Asia W. Patrick Murphy spoke to reporters in Canberra on Friday at the end of a three-day Australian visit for talks with officials in the recently reelected government on expanding their security alliance.

Six Pacific island nations give diplomatic recognition to Taiwan. They account for a third of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies around the world and are under intensifying pressure from Beijing to switch allegiances as it builds influence.

Murphy urged countries to maintain their relations with the self-governing democratic island, saying diplomatic decisions should not be influenced by China.