China to return seized US drone

Officials say China will return an underwater US drone seized by a naval vessel this week in the South China Sea, as Beijing says that Washington has been 'hyping up' the incident.
China said it will return a US underwater drone that its navy seized in the South China Sea. The drone was launched by  the USNS Bowditch.
China said it will return a US underwater drone that its navy seized in the South China Sea. The drone was launched by the USNS Bowditch.PHOTO: NYTIMES

China said yesterday that it will return a US underwater drone that its navy seized in the South China Sea, but criticised Washington's "unilateral hyping up" of the issue, which it said was not conducive to its smooth resolution.

The United States had demanded the return of the drone and President-elect Donald Trump weighed in on the issue with a tweet accusing China of stealing the drone in an unprecedented act. Some analysts saw the move as a pushback by Beijing against US pressure over its claim to almost 80 per cent of South China Sea.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 18, 2016, with the headline 'China to return seized US drone'. Print Edition | Subscribe