China says it has returned seized sea drone to US | Global News

China says it has returned seized sea drone to US

/ 01:59 PM December 20, 2016

China US Navy Drone

In this undated file photo released by the U.S. Navy Visual News Service, the USNS Bowditch, a T-AGS 60 Class Oceanographic Survey Ship, sails in open water. China’s seizure of an American underwater drone is the latest sign that the Pacific Ocean’s dominant power and its rising Asian challenger are headed for more confrontation once U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office, analysts said on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (CHINFO, Navy Visual News via AP, File)

BEIJING—China said Tuesday it has returned a seized underwater probe to the US Navy in the South China Sea, after Beijing’s seizure of the craft sparked a dispute between the two powers.

The handover of the small vehicle to the US went “completed smoothly” after “friendly consultations” between both sides, China’s defense ministry said in a short statement on its website.


China seized the probe around 50 nautical miles (90 kilometers) northwest of Subic Bay in the Philippines last week, in an incident which heightened already tense relations between the world’s two largest economies.


READ: US says Chinese warship seized Navy underwater drone

Pentagon officials had previously said that it would be handed over to the crew of a US warship in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal.

Last week, Pentagon officials said the Chinese had “unlawfully” grabbed the marine probe, which they described as a craft that gathers unclassified data that can be used to help submarines navigate and determine sonar ranges in murky waters.

China said it had been snatched since it might pose a safety hazard to other vessels. It also said it “strongly opposed” US reconnaissance activities and had asked Washington to stop.

US President-elect Donald Trump also waded into the row. On Sunday, after Beijing and Washington announced the drone would be returned, Trump tweeted: “We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back. – let them keep it!”

READ: China says it will give drone back, but Trump says ‘keep it’


China’s foreign ministry on Monday rejected Trump’s accusations Beijing had stolen the craft as “not accurate”.


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TAGS: Asia, China, Drone, South China Sea, United States, US Navy

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