U.S. has rock solid commitment to help Taiwan defend itself -official

Flags of Taiwan and U.S. are placed for a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan March 27, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

SINGAPORE, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Threats and coercion by China towards Taiwan increase the need for the United States to help Taiwan maintain a credible self-defense, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia said on Thursday.

Assistant Secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink, speaking in Singapore during a visit to Southeast Asia, said the U.S. has a rock solid commitment to assist Taiwan.

"As the threat and coercion from the People's Republic of China increases, I think we need to respond as well in an appropriate way," Kritenbrink told reporters in Singapore, specifically citing support over self-defence and trade.

"We intend to live up to our obligations, our rock solid obligations and commitments," he added.

Kritenbrink also said he had spoken to counterparts in Malaysia about the country doing more to enforce laws it has in place to combat human trafficking and labour abuses.

"We believe Malaysia needs to do more ... to protect victims and crack down on traffickers," he said.

This year the U.S. State Department downgraded Malaysia to the worst ranking in its human trafficking watchlist. read more

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has banned six Malaysian firms, including rubber glove makers and palm oil producers, in the last two years from selling their products to the United States after finding evidence of forced labour.

Kritenbrink said he had also spoken to Southeast Asian leaders about putting more pressure on the military junta in Myanmar, without going into specifics.

Reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by Ed Davies, Martin Petty

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