China to Return US Drone: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

What the drone was doing in the South China Sea is disputed. (Getty)

What the drone was doing in the South China Sea is disputed. (Getty)

China said it would return the US drone it had snatched from the South China Sea on Thursday.

The seizure underscores tensions between the two superpowers. President-elect Donald Trump has been a frequent critic of China’s policies and has called the latest incident “unprecedented”. China’s Defence Ministry, for its part, criticized the US for “hyping up” the issue.

The US says the underwater drone is used to monitor weather patterns. It became a flash point in China-US relations with the Pentagon calling on the drone’s immediate return.

“It is ours, and it is clearly marked as ours and we would like it back. And we would like this not to happen again,” Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said.

Here’s what you need to know about the underwater drone seizure.

1. China Says It Seized the Drone Over Safety Concerns

In a statement on Saturday, China justified the seizure of the underwater drone. China’s warship had come within 500 yards of a US vessel when it took the drone. However, China said it had done so because of navigational safety issues. In the statement, China also reasserted its territorial rights criticizing the US for its “close-in reconnaissance and military surveys”.

“In order to prevent this device from posing a danger to the safe navigation of passing ships and personnel, the Chinese lifeboat adopted a professional and responsible attitude in investigating and verifying the device,” the statement said, according to AP.

2. The Pentagon Says the Drone is Used to Monitor Weather Patterns, But Some Analysts Are Skeptical

Subic Bay Philippines

The seizure happened 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay off the Philippines, Reuters reports

The type of unarmed drone, known as a glider, usually collect data on water temperatures and salinity levels, according to USA TODAY. It was found in the South China Sea and recovered by a Chinese Dalang III class Chinese warship just as the USNS Bowditch was about to reach it.

However, some Chinese and American analysts say the drone was most likely tracking China’s submarine routes. The South China sea is a contested area that has seen China disputing territorial rights over nearby islands.

3. President-Elect Trump Called the Seizure “Unprecedented”

President-elect Trump, who has been a vocal critic of China, tweeted that China’s actions were “unprecedented”. Trump stoked tensions with China after calling Taiwan’s president after winning the election. He said Taiwan’s president Tsi Ing-wenhad called to congratulate him on his victory, but China saw the move as an attack on its One China policy, which states there is only one state called China, despite Taiwan’s claims to sovereignty. Not since President Jimmy Carter supported the One China Policy has the US leader called Taiwan’s president, according to USA TODAY.

Following the US blowback, China said that the US was exaggerating over the drone seizure. However, it didn’t say when it would return the drone, according to the New York Times.

4. The Philippines’ President Condoned China’s Drone Seizure and Declined to Take Action

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Visits China

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is friendly towards China (Getty)

In a sign of warming relations between China and the Philippines, Manila said it wouldn’t take action against China for the drone seizure. In a news conference on Saturday he explained that, “politics in Southeast Asia is changing”. It was a reference to the new president Rodrigo Duterte shift away from its treaty ally, the US, to China when he took office in June, according to the Times.

It’s not the first incident of Chinese aggression that the Philippines has let slide. Satellite images released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies appear to show China had placed weapons on seven of its artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago. The Philippines’ foreign secretary, Perfecto Yasay Jr.responded saying, “there’s nothing we can do about that now”.

5. The Seizure Comes During Escalating Tensions Between US and China

US one china

Since Jimmy Carter, the US has respected the One China policy (Getty)

The election of President Trump has Chinese leadership worried. During the presidential campaign, Trump labeled China a currency-manipulator. His call to Taiwan’s president after the election cast doubt on the longstanding One China policy.

Under President Obama, China and the US reached a historic agreement by committing to the Paris climate accord. However, a point of contention in the relationship is China’s claim that it owns the territories and waters in the South China Sea. In a statement to China’s state-run press, retired rear admiral Yang Yi said the drone had entered disputed Scarborough Shoal lands claimed by the Philippines and China. The incursion was an invitation for Chinese sailors to pick up the drone, he said.




We strongly support Trump politic regarding chinese arrogance attitude. It’s time for US to go to the top of history concern. Under fourty years of bilateral agreement One China accepted by formers US President R.Nixon and J.Carter, How much american people lost their job in benefit for china economic prosperity. USA lived with enormus financial deficit and let china to earn a trillion USD to built up its economy and let it to perform and strengthen its army by buying and even more stealing the US high tech capabilities. So, time is coming to change strategy versus china before it become more stronger and destroy USA. Dear US compatriots, Stay awaken and let your fate in hand and be trusted in Trump governance to take back and make USA great again as he said.
Please put its in our mind 400000 american soldiers have been lost their life because of the democratic vision branch of liberal ideology. By loving self and universal-freedom, how many south vietnameses, laostians and cambodians anti-communist fighters have lost their lives? The most lives losen during indochina war, was cambodia, on wich 2 and half of millions of deaths were occured by genocide. And who were behind of this historic event? Response is china, known by its direct main-mise on indochina to create crisis in ladite region.
As victim of communist regime survivor and and living under name of cambodian refugee in noth america from 1980, I suggest american peoples to know within intellectual capacity, who were ennemies of United states in the past and in the present time. If you live under confusion, you’ll get the same fate as same as we have got during past 40 years.
We trust in you in hoping you’re more intelligent than chinese communist leaders. GOOD LUCK! GOD BLESS AMERICA!

John Tari

I agree with your statements..US. must act now before too late when rivals surpass Amerlca with advanced military technologies and invade democracy we enjoy under US.leadership..