Trump’s drone tweet ‘in­ac­cu­rate’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHANG ZHIHAO zhangzhi­hao@chi­

Bei­jing re­jected on Mon­day US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s claim that it had stolen a US un­manned un­der­wa­ter ve­hi­cle, say­ing that was “to­tally in­ac­cu­rate”.

For­eign Min­istry spokes­women Hua Chun­y­ing said, “We don’t like the word ‘steal,’” in re­sponse to Trump’s pair of tweets over the week­end, ac­cus­ing Bei­jing of “steal­ing” the equip­ment in an “un­prece­dented act”.

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!”

The Chi­nese lifeboat that re­trieved the 3-me­ter-long drone adopted a “re­spon­si­ble and pro­fes­sional” at­ti­tude in in­ves­ti­gat­ing and ver­i­fy­ing the de­vice, she added.

“The rea­son is sim­ple and straight­for­ward,” Hua said. “Imag­ine you found some­thing on the street, you at least have to ex­am­ine the item first and check the claimant be­fore re­turn­ing it.”

When asked about whether China would change its re­straint to­ward Trump’s tweets af­ter he be­comes US pres­i­dent on Jan 20, Hua replied: “We pay at­ten­tion to the gov­ern­ment’s action.”

The drone was dis­cov­ered and re­trieved by the Chi­nese Navy to “pre­vent danger to the safe nav­i­ga­tion of pass­ing ships and per­son­nel”, Hua said. It was op­er­at­ing about 93 kilome- ters north­west of Su­bic Bay off the Philip­pines.

Hua said that China has al­ways op­posed the United States con­duct­ing re­con­nais- sance and mil­i­tary sur­veys within Chi­nese wa­ters. “It has threat­ened China’s se­cu­rity and sovereignty. China will main­tain vig­i­lance against the rel­e­vant US ac­tiv­i­ties and take nec­es­sary mea­sures in re­sponse,” she said.

He Weibao, a re­searcher of US for­eign af­fairs at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said the Chi­nese Navy has the right to re­trieve uniden­ti­fied ob­jects that could po­ten­tially threaten safe nav­i­ga­tion, even in in­ter­na­tional wa­ters.

“It would be ir­re­spon­si­ble for China not to have picked up the de­vice,” said He. “The anx­i­ety dis­played in the US over the drone episode could raise sus­pi­cion of es­pi­onage, given how the US has in­creased re­con­nais­sance ef­forts in the re­gion.”

Imag­ine you found some­thing on the street, you at least have to ex­am­ine the item first ... be­fore re­turn­ing it.” Hua Chun­y­ing, spokes­woman for the For­eign Min­istry

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