18 December 2016
American President-elect Donald Trump remained defiant on Sunday (Dec 18), taking to social media to shoot back at Beijing even after it promised to return an underwater drone seized from an American navy vessel operating in the disputed South China Sea, underlining the tense state of bilateral relations between the two super powers.
“We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back – let them keep it!,” said the President-elect to his more than 17 million Twitter followers early on Sunday as he continued to slam China’s actions after it promised to return the equipment.
He had earlier tweeted that: “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act.”
Naval expert Collin Koh told TODAY that the incumbent American administration and the US defence, naval and intelligence communities would certainly not take the episode lightly.
“One cannot just seize the equipment and impound it. The drone technology would not really be so sensitive as to severely undermine US military advantages in the undersea domain. But it is nonetheless still a sovereign piece of equipment that once seized, would be expected to be returned,” he said.
…Ms Irene Chan, an associate research fellow at S Rajaratnam School of International Studies’ (RSIS) China Programme noted that China has achieved a lot with respect to the South China Sea over the past four years, including pushing America’s boundaries over Chinese reclamation in the disputed areas and defying the ruling of an international tribunal which invalidated its expansive territorial claims.
“Provoking the US is probably the last thing they (the Chinese) wish to do. The Chinese would rather want peace and stability to consolidate their gains and concentrate on other more pressing issues such as economic restructuring and development,” she said.
Bernard Loo, an associate professor at RSIS’ Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies added that the speed at which China has stated it will be returning the drone suggests that strong words were said by Washington on the issue behind close doors. “I suspect China has been chastened somewhat by this episode.”
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 19/12/2016