China’s Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that it would return a U.S. Navy underwater drone in an appropriate manner after China’s navy seized the unmanned underwater vehicle on Thursday that was found on the surface of the international waters in the South China Sea.
The Pentagon released a statement confirming the U.S. Department of Defense called upon China to immediately return an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) that China unlawfully seized in the South China Sea while it was being recovered by a U.S. Navy oceanographic survey ship.
The unmanned underwater vehicle is valued around $100,000 and is used to gather military oceanographic data such as salinity, water temperature, and sound speed while the U.S. Navy conducts routine operations, in accordance with international law, about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay, Philippines.
The Pentagon reported that it attempted to make radio contact with the China Navy ship which was acknowledged but ignored.
China’s Ministry of Defense said the U.S. “unilaterally hyped the case in public” that made the rounds in the media over the past 2 days with president elect Donald Trump weighing in on Saturday through a tweet that originally contained a spelling error with the word unprecedented before it was deleted and corrected.
Trump’s first tweet called it an “unpresidented” acts which sparked some funny reactions from twitter followers.
— Bethany Hodges (@be_than_y) December 17, 2016
Territory Disputes In South China Sea
Tensions in the South China Sea have intensified after China has taken a more assertive stance after building defense systems on the disputed Spratly Islands, a group of 14 islands, which can be viewed from satellite imagery.
The U.S. has urged China to stop its military buildup in the South China Sea.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a press briefing on Thursday that the U.S. makes no independent claims to the land features in the South China Sea and competing claims to disputed islands in the region should be resolved not by might or through military action, but rather through diplomacy and negotiation.
Secretary Earnest said that the U.S. interest is protecting the free flow of commerce and the freedom of navigation in this region of the world.
China’s Defense Ministry confirmed on Thursday that it had installed weapons on the islands and would use them like a “slingshot” to repel threats, according to the New York Times.
Photo is courtesy of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI).