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China will return the US Navy drone it seized earlier this week

China will return the US Navy drone it seized earlier this week


China claimed that the US was ‘hyping up’ the incident

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Cmdr. Santiago Carrizosa

On Thursday, a Chinese navel vessel seized an underwater drone from a US Navy oceanographic research ship, which prompted a quick call from the Department of Defense to return the vehicle. After “direct engagement” between the two countries, China will return the vehicle to the United States, according to Reuters.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook issued a statement earlier today, saying that the two countries had spoken and that "we have secured an understanding that the Chinese will return the UUV to the United States."

The Unmanned Underwater Drone had been collecting data on the salinity, temperature, and clarity of the water approximately 50 nautical miles from Subic Bay, in the Philippines, and was seized as the crew of the Bowditch were attempting to retrieve it. When the crew of the ship hailed the Chinese vessel, their request to have the vehicle returned was ignored.

Chinese officials claimed that the United States had been “hyping up” the incident, but that the country “decided to return it to the U.S. side in an appropriate manner.” The seizure come as tensions between China and others in the South Pacific have been on the rise. The seizure prompted President-elect Donald Trump, to tweet that the action an “unprecedented act.”

Update December 18th, 9:45AM ET: After word broke that China would be returning the drone to the United States, Trump tweeted once again, saying that the country should just keep the vehicle: