President-elect Donald Trump has accused China of stealing an unmanned underwater U.S. Navy drone. The president-elect believes that the U.S. shouldn’t take the drone back and let Chinese keep it.
In a tweet on Saturday, Trump said: “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented act.” He misspelled “unprecedented,” according to a report from The Guardian.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement that China should return the Navy underwater vehicle it unlawfully seized in the South China Sea.
The vehicle, an unclassified “ocean glider” system, was being used by a U.S. Navy oceanographic survey ship to gather military oceanographic data such as salinity, water temperature, and sound speed.
The department said that they are using appropriate government-to-government channels for the return of the vehicle which was captured by a Chinese Navy ship about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay, Philippines.
According to the defense department, the drone is a sovereign immune vessel of the United States.
“We call upon China to return our UUV immediately, and to comply with all of its obligations under international law,” the department said in the statement.
On Saturday, the Chinese foreign ministry said that they “decided to return” the drone “to the US side in an appropriate manner, and China and the US have all along been in communication about it.”
Hours later, Trump tweeted that the U.S. tell China it no longer wants its property returned. “We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back. – let them keep it!”
Subsequently, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement: “Through direct engagement with Chinese authorities, we have secured an understanding that the Chinese will return the UUV [unmanned underwater vehicle] to the United States.”