SINGAPORE - Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu said on Saturday that a Cold War mentality was resurgent in the Asia-Pacific region although his country seeks dialogue over confrontation.

Speaking at the Asia's top security summit in Singapore, the Shangri-La Dialogue, Li took thinly veiled digs at the United States, accusing "some countries" of intensifying an arms race and wilfully interfering in the internal affairs of others.

"A Cold War mentality is now resurgent, greatly increasing security risks," he said. "Mutual respect should prevail over bullying and hegemony."

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin rebuked China in a speech at the security meeting on Saturday for refusing to hold military talks, leaving the superpowers deadlocked over democratically ruled Taiwan and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Ties between Washington and Beijing are strained over a range of issues, including Taiwan, the South China Sea and President Joe Biden's restrictions on semiconductor chip exports.

Li, sanctioned by the United States in 2018 over weapons purchases from Russia, shook hands with Austin at a dinner on Friday but the two have not had a deeper discussion, despite repeated U.S. demands for more military exchanges.

Speaking privately the sidelines of the conference, two Chinese military officers said that Beijing wanted clear signs from Washington of a less confrontational approach in Asia - including the dropping of sanctions against Li - before military-to-military talks could resume.

(Reporting by Chen Lin, Greg Torode; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Raju Gopalakrishnan)