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.

Qatar Today - - DE­VEL­OP­MENT > TECH TALK -

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.

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