Following up on Friday’s Pentagon report China “stole” an underwater surveillance drone in the South China Sea, the Chinese government today accused the US of “hyping up” what was actually a fairly minor matter, saying that the drone would be returned.
The drone, estimated to cost about $150,000 and be made of purely civilian components, was carrying out military surveying of the South China Sea. The exact location was not clear, but Pentagon indications may put it near the China-controlled Spratly Islands.
Two drones were in the water, about 500 meters from a US Navy ship, and one was scooped out of the water by China, while the other returned to its ship. Chinese officials claimed the boat crew didn’t know what the drone was, and scooped it out to ensure it wouldn’t pose a danger to passing ships in the region.
Pentagon officials confirmed that China has agreed to return the drone, but continued to rail on about China’s “unlawful seizure” of the device. Chinese officials have asked the US to stop carrying out military surveying in the presence of Chinese ships in the future to avoid such incidents.