US crit­i­cism of drone re­trieval ‘un­rea­son­able’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG ZHIHAO zhangzhi­hao@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Bei­jing ac­cused the Pen­tagon on Tues­day of “un­rea­son­able” crit­i­cism af­ter the re­turn of an un­der­wa­ter drone.

Per­sis­tent close-up sur­veil­lance and mil­i­tary sur­veys by the United States within Chi­nese wa­ters have threat­ened China’s sovereignty and se­cu­rity, caus­ing this and other sim­i­lar in­ci­dents, said For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing.

China has al­ways res­o­lutely op­posed and de­manded that the US halt these ac­tiv­i­ties, Hua said. “China hopes that the US can re­spect its se­cu­rity in­ter­ests.”

The drone — re­trieved on Thurs­day by a Chi­nese ves­sel 93 kilo­me­ters north­west of Su­bic Bay off the Philip­pines — was “trans­ferred smoothly” to the US on Tues­day af­ter “friendly ne­go­ti­a­tion”, ac­cord­ing to the De­fense Min­istry.

The Pen­tagon con­firmed the re­turn of the drone in a state­ment, but it said China had “un­law­fully seized” the drone and asked for China to re­frain from fur­ther ef­forts to im­pede law­ful US ac­tiv­i­ties.

“As to what the US De­fense Depart­ment said, I have to ver­ify it with the mil­i­tary. But I think what they said is un­rea­son­able,” Hua said.

When asked about the han­dover, Hua said the reso- lu­tion of the drone is­sue showed that “the com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels be­tween the Chi­nese and US mil­i­taries are rel­a­tively smooth and they are ben­e­fi­cial to han­dling emer­gen­cies as well as pre­vent­ing mis­cal­cu­la­tions and mis­un­der­stand­ings”.

Sino-US re­la­tions should head to­ward “no con­flict or con­fronta­tion”, she added.

Peng Guangqian, a mil­i­tary strate­gist and a ma­jor gen­eral of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army, said the US has taken ad­van­tage for years of a gray area in in­ter­na­tional law to il­le­gally col­lect oceanic in­for­ma­tion within Chi­nese wa­ters.

This in­for­ma­tion, such as wa­ter salin­ity and cur­rent flow, might seem in­no­cent but could in­flu­ence naval ac­tiv­i­ties, Peng said.

China should de­velop a strat­egy to deal with US re­con­nais­sance mis­sions in the South China Sea, which are ex­pected to in­crease af­ter pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump takes of­fice on Jan 20, he added.

Tao Wen­zhao, a re­searcher of US stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sci­ences, said China con­veyed to the US its firm de­ter­mi­na­tion to pro­tect na­tional sovereignty and se­cu­rity by re­solv­ing the drone episode.

Tao be­lieved China and the US might face more fric­tion in the fu­ture and said, “We have to be men­tally pre­pared for any­thing.”

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