According to US and Chinese sources, the Chinese government has returned the unmanned underwater drone it seized from international waters in the South China Sea last week. The Chinese Navy had been shadowing the USS Bowditch as it was picking up underwater research vessels off the coast of the Philippines in the Subic Bay. China failed to respond to the initial calls from the US telling them the drone was American property, leaving the two countries in a strange diplomatic battle in an unprecedented situation as the US tried to get it back.
“China is throwing its weight around while it still can,” J.D. Gordon, National Security Advisor and former Pentagon spokesman, told American Military News. “Beijing doesn’t fear or respect Team Obama, so isn’t too concerned about facing any meaningful consequences for aggressive acts like the drone seizure. And like dictatorships are prone to do, they look to strengthen their grip on power by focusing public attention on perceived enemies.”
“After friendly consultations between China and the United States, the transfer of the US underwater drone was smoothly completed,” a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Defense said.
The Pentagon also released a statement about what they are referring to as the “unlawful seizure” of American property.
“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.
The Defense Department confirmed the Chinese Navy returned the drone near the site it was taken and that the incident “was inconsistent with both international law and standards of professionalism for conduct between navies at sea” and the US has addressed those concerns with China. They did not mention the condition the drone was returned in.