China Returns Seized US Drone: Claim They Weren't Stealing It

The Chinese Navy on Tuesday returned a US underwater drone it seized last week, according to US and Chinese officials. A peaceful resolution to a tense situation in the South China Sea couldn’t come soon enough, with the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump just weeks away. In a released statement, the Chinese Ministry of Defense said:

“After friendly consultations between China and the United States, the transfer of the US underwater drone was smoothly completed.”

I’m not sure how friendly the conversation went, considering that last week the Chinese Navy flatly took the drone right in front of an American vessel. The Pentagon said that the US would continue to investigate the unlawful seizure, which occurred in international waters 50 miles north of Subic Bay in the Philippines.

“The US remains committed to upholding the accepted principles and norms of international law and freedom of navigation and overflight and will continue to fly, sail, and operate in the South China Sea wherever international law allows, in the same way that we operate everywhere else around the world,” the Pentagon said in a released statement.

The seizure further threatens friendly ties between the US and China. President-elect Trump does not appear to be afraid of confronting the Chinese on this, as well as a wide range of issues between the two nations. It didn’t take Mr. Trump long to respond after the seizure took place last week, first tweeting that the theft of a US drone by China was an “unprecedented act.”

In a child-like game of  “I didn’t want it anyway,” Trump then followed up with a cheeky tweet, suggesting that the US allow the Chinese to have the drone.

We should tell China that we don't want the drone they stole back.- let them keep it!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2016

Hu Chunying, a Chinese spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, claimed that China did not steal the drone. “First I want to say we strongly dislike the term ‘steal’ as it’s entirely inaccurate,” she said.

Relax everybody. China didn’t steal an American drone in international waters – they merely were borrowing it for a little while, and waited until the US military demanded it before returning it. Seems legit. The spokesperson continued:

“This is just like you found a thing on the street, and you have to take a look and investigate it to see if the thing belongs to one who wants it back.”

Perhaps the Chinese simply didn’t see the American military vessel in the South China Sea, as its crew members watched the Chinese Navy pilfer the drone. Give me a break.

Han Xudong, a military expert in Beijing, said that the United States made a big deal over a small situation. “It’s a simple matter that could have been easily resolved via diplomatic or military channels,” he said, adding that the President-elect shouldn’t be making comments on the matter:

“It’s not appropriate for Trump to comment on this,” said Han.

Donald Trump is going to be the next President of the United States. He will be arguably the most influential man in the world for the next four years. As a billionaire in the public eye for decades, I’m pretty sure that he knows exactly what he’s doing – that is to say, further rustling the feathers of China.

The Global Times, a Chinese-state owned publication scolded Trump in an editorial piece, claiming that his comments are unbecoming of a person who will be leading the United States. “Trump is not behaving as a president who will become master of the White House in a month. He bears no sense of how to lead a superpower. Even the US military did not use the term "steal" to describe the move by the Chinese navy. Trump's second tweet makes people worry that he will treat China-US relations as child's play.”

It seems that China is testing the waters to see how the United States will react in a “misunderstanding.” The US government and its representatives have been placating the Chinese for decades, allowing them to flourish with nearly unregulated free trade. The idea that Sino-American relations were fine-and-dandy began to change in the public eye once Donald Trump began his campaign for presidency.

The Chinese can take American toys in international waters and act as if it’s not a big deal. Under President Obama, there likely would have been little to no public reaction, and the American people would have been none-the-wiser. The US would continue to kiss the ass of the socialist superpower and go about its business. Under the leadership and direction of Donald Trump, China has found that this relationship is undergoing a major change.

President-elect Trump has vowed to renegotiate trade deals with China that are not in favor of the United States. He spoke with the President of Taiwan, nonchalantly casting aside the One China Policy. During his campaign rallies, Trump said that the Chinese enjoy a flourishing economy thanks to America, while reverse-engineering US technology and hacking American government networks. He said “we can’t allow China to rape our country,” and that “it’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.” All of these positions from a man who is about to lead the free world is beginning to make China concerned – and they should be. Perhaps it’s time that the “People’s” Republic be knocked down a peg or two.

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