President-elect Donald Trump criticized China Saturday for unlawfully seizing a U.S. naval research drone operating legally in international waters in the South China Sea.
Trump called China’s theft of U.S. naval equipment “unprecedented” in a tweet posted early Saturday.
China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 17, 2016
The Pentagon announced Friday that a Chinese naval vessel shadowing a U.S. Navy oceanographic vessel conducting routine operations in the South China Sea seized a naval unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV).
The drone, as well as the control ship USNS Bowditch, were in international waters, and the UUV was marked as U.S. property. The Chinese navy reportedly ignored radio requests calling for the device’s return.
The Department of State formally demanded the Chinese return the UUV immediately.
The Chinese Ministry of National Defense claimed that the Chinese navy detected an “unidentified device” and seized it for maritime security purposes, claiming that its actions were “responsible.”
The Pentagon and the MND reached an agreement Saturday on the drone’s return.
Several hours after the announcement, Trump tweeted that the U.S. should inform China they can keep the stolen drone.
We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back.- let them keep it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2016
The president-elect has yet to clarify his intended meaning.
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