A Chinese ship seized a US underwater drone in the South China Sea, escalating the existing tensions over China's disputed claim to several remote islands.
The drone (described as an “ocean glider”), belonging to oceanographic survey ship USNS Bowditch, was reportedly mapping underwater channels as part of an unclassified survey mission. A Chinese warship seized it in Subic Bay, off the Philippine coast, just as it was about to be retrieved. It wasn't immediately clear why China seized the drone, and US officials initially got no response from the Chinese when they announced over a radio channel that the drone was US property. “It is ours, and it is clearly marked as ours and we would like it back,” a Pentagon spokesman said in a news briefing. “And we would like this not to happen again.” President-elect Donald Trump proclaimed on Twitter, “We should tell China that we don't want the drone they stole back. Let them keep it!” The Chinese government eventually returned the drone a week later but not before a lot of diplomatic back-and-forth and escalating tensions.