Austin: US doesn’t want conflict with China but won’t ‘flinch when our interests are threatened’

“Beijing’s claim to the vast majority of the South China Sea has no basis in international law. That assertion treads on the sovereignty of states in the region,” Austin said in a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore. China claims almost all of the 1.3-million-square-mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory, despite much of those claims running against international law. “Beijing’s unwillingness to resolve disputes peacefully and respect the rule of law isn’t just occurring on the water. We have also seen aggression against India,…