All options on the table to put more pressure on Myanmar junta: US diplomat

Daniel Kritenbrink speaking to reporters in Singapore during his four-day visit to South-East Asia on Dec 2, 2021.- US EMBASSY SINGAPORE

BANGKOK (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): All options are on the table when it comes to applying pressure, including by increasing sanctions, on the military junta in Myanmar to stop acts of violence against the people as well as their detention, a senior United States diplomat said on Thursday (Dec 2).

"All options are on the table, and I think it is our responsibility not just as the US, but as the international community, to do whatever we can to affect change and the unacceptable coup d'état and violence that has been carried out against the Burmese people," said Daniel Kritenbrink, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Kritenbrink was speaking in Singapore during a virtual roundtable with the media which was organised in the middle of his four-day trip in South-East Asia. He has already been to Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta as well and is due in Bangkok, the final stop.

"I'm here to demonstrate credibly the strength of America's commitment to South-East Asia and to these individual partners that I'm visiting. And also to make clear our strong support for Asean centrality and the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific," he said during the roundtable.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military seized power in a coup on Feb 1. The US has imposed a range of sanctions against individuals and entities related to the military junta now ruling the country.

"We'll continue to evaluate additional steps we can take to increase pressure on the junta, to cut off funding streams that have allowed them to carry out the repression," said Kritenbrink.

Kritenbrink on Thursday was asked about the guest list for President Joe Biden's inaugural Summit for Democracy next week which, among other things, saw the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia - among Asean members - being invited but not Singapore and Thailand.

He responded: "Given that only a number of countries were invited, there were a range of countries including some of our closest partners like Singapore who were not invited.

"But this is not a commentary on the strength of our partnership with Singapore."

He described the summit as an opportunity for a "select number of US partners" to exchange views and practices about how democratic countries and societies could work to better benefit their peoples.

"This comes in the midst of a situation where we're seeing a rise in authoritarianism globally, where we see a number of regimes that carry out a range of corrupt and democratic practices," he said.

Touching on US ties with Taiwan, Kritenbrink said that increasing threats and coercion from China against the self-ruled island had led Washington to "respond as well in an appropriate way".

"We intend to live up to our rock solid obligations and commitments," he said, noting US assistance to Taiwan in defence and trade.

Kritenbrink also defined the US-China relationship as one primarily defined by "responsible competition".

"As we carry out this intense competition - in which we intend to prevail - we want to engage in intense diplomacy as well so as to prevent the relationship from veering into conflict which is not in anyone's interest," he said.

The US has made clear to China that there will be areas of fundamentally opposing views and visions regarding Beijing's actions.

"We will act and speak out in defence of our values and interests," said Kritenbrink.

"So, again, this is a complex relationship... But we do also intend to cooperate in areas where we can and where our interests demand that we do," he said.

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Singapore , Kritenbrink , China , US , Taiwan , Myanmar


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