'UNLAWFUL': China to return seized US Navy drone, Pentagon says
The Pentagon said Saturday that China will return a U.S. Navy drone seized in the international waters of the South China Sea. "We have registered our objection to China's unlawful seizure, of a U.S. unmanned-underwater vehicle,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said. “Through direct engagement with Chinese authorities, we have secured an understanding that the Chinese will return the UUV to the United States." Earlier Saturday, President-elect Donald Trump got involved in the controversy with a tweet that accused the Chinese of stealing the drone and ripping “it out of water.” He tweeted at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Trump, a Republican, called the seizure Thursday “unpresidented”.
Before the Pentagon announcement, China had indicated that efforts were underway to resolve the issue, saying it was in contact with American counterparts regarding the "appropriately handling" of the unmanned underwater glider. However, the one-sentence comment by the country’s foreign ministry offered no details on what discussions were underway or why China on seized the drone, which the Pentagon says was being operated by civilian contractors for oceanic research. The U.S. said it issued a formal diplomatic complaint over the seizure and demanded the drone's return. "According to (our) understanding, the U.S. and Chinese sides are working on appropriately handling this matter through channels between the two militaries," the foreign ministry said in its statement, which was faxed to The Associated Press.
The drone was seized while collecting unclassified scientific data about 57 miles northwest of Subic Bay, near the Philippines in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety, the U.S. Navy said Friday. "It is ours,” a Navy spokesman said. “It's clearly marked as ours. We would like it back, and we would like this not to happen again," The spokesman also said the drone costs about $150,000 and is largely commercial, off-the-shelf technology.
More From FoxNews: