Vietnam Time

12/19/2016 9:29:05 AM

Trump: China should keep seized U.S. drone

(VNF) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump continued to take jabs at China on Twitter on Saturday (Dec. 17th) after Beijing agreed to give back an underwater U.S. drone it seized this week.

"We should tell China that we don't want the drone they stole back - let them keep it!" Trump tweeted.

China has said it will return the drone, which one of its naval vessels seized in the South China Sea, but complained that Washington had “hyped up” the incident.

The oceanographic survey ship, USNS Bowditch, is shown September 20th, 2002, which deployed an underwater drone seized by a Chinese Navy warship in international waters in South China Sea, December 16th, 2016. (Photo courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS)

The drone, known as an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), was taken on Thursday (Dec. 15th), the first seizure of its kind in recent memory. The Pentagon went public with its complaint after the action and said on Saturday (Dec. 17th) it had secured a deal to get the drone back.

"Through direct engagement with Chinese authorities, we have secured an understanding that the Chinese will return the UUV to the United States," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.

The drone, which the Pentagon said was operating lawfully was collecting data about the salinity, temperature and clarity of the water about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay, off the Philippines.

It was seized just as the USNS Bowditch was about to retrieve it, U.S. officials said.

China's Defense Ministry said a Chinese naval vessel discovered a piece of "unidentified equipment" and checked it to prevent any navigational safety issues before discovering it was a U.S. drone.

"China decided to return it to the U.S. side in an appropriate manner, and China and the U.S. have all along been in communication about it," the ministry said on its website.

"During this process, the U.S. side's unilateral and open hyping up is inappropriate, and is not beneficial to the smooth resolution of this issue. We express regret at this," it added.

The incident drew criticism from Trump, who has vowed to take a more aggressive approach in dealing with Beijing.

"China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters - rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act," Trump said in a tweet early on Saturday (Dec. 17th) from his seaside resort club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, where he plans to spend the holidays.

Trump has previously threatened to declare China a currency manipulator and force changes in U.S.-Chinese trade policy, which he says has led to the greatest theft of American jobs in history.

Trump has also raised questions about the most sensitive part of the U.S.-China relationship: whether Washington would stick to its nearly four-decades-old policy of recognising that Taiwan is part of "one China."

After his Nov. 8th election victory, Trump accepted a congratulatory phone call from President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, prompting China to lodge a diplomatic protest.

President Barack Obama said on Friday (Dec. 16th) it was fine for Trump to review Washington's policy towards Taiwan, but he cautioned that a shift could lead to significant consequences in the U.S. relationship with Beijing.

"There's probably no bilateral relationship that carries more significance and where there's also the potential, if that relationship breaks down or goes into a full-conflict mode, that everybody is worse off," Obama told reporters./.

  ( Compiled by VNF )
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