On Thursday, a Chinese navel vessel seized a US Navy drone, which had been launched from an American oceanographic and surveillance ship, the Bowditch, in international waters off the Philippines. As the American crew was in the process of retrieving the device, a small boat dispatched from the Chinese vessel beat the Americans to it and simply took it, The New York Times reports.
The US has issued a formal protest and demanded the return of the device.
According to The Guardian, Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary, said that the Bowditch made radio contact with the Chinese ship and asked for the drone to be returned. “The radio contact was acknowledged by the [Chinese] navy ship, but the request was ignored,” Cook said.
Donald Trump, who two weeks ago threatened to put an end to America’s One China policy, a policy that the Chinese Foreign Ministry has called a ‘prerequisite’ for diplomatic relations with Beijing, reacted to the drone theft on Twitter, calling it an ‘unprecedented act.’
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 17, 2016
China’s CCTV reports that the Chinese Defense Ministry is in touch with Washington and will return the US drone seized in the South China Sea. The ministry also regretted the fact that the US spoke publicly about the seizure and voiced a protest against frequent reconnaissance by the US military in Chinese waters.
The Donald, however, doesn’t think that the US should take the captured drone back, saying “let them keep it!”
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
Regardless of how this situation plays out, one thing is certain – Donald Trump is ready to get tough with China, who he believes has been outmaneuvering the United States in trade deals and deliberately devaluing the yuan against the dollar.