The Defense Department is reporting that a Chinese warship operating in international waters captured and stole a US unmanned drone. And they did it right in front of a US ship.
A US oceanographic vessel Thursday had its underwater drone stolen by a Chinese warship literally right in front of the eyes of the American crew, a US defense official told CNN Friday. ...
[USNS Bowditch] had stopped in the water to pick up two underwater drones. At that point a Chinese naval ship that had been shadowing the Bowditch put a small boat into the water. That small boat came up alongside and the Chinese crew took one of the drones.
The Bowditch is a oceanographic survey ship used for tracking ocean currents and navigational hazards. The drones carried by the bowditch contain no weaponry, and are used in mapping the sea floor.
The incident occurred in the South China Sea, where the Chinese government has recently added weapons to a series of artificial islands. Tensions in the region seem to be increasing since Donald Trump threatened to end the “One China” policy that the United States has followed since 1979. Also on Thursday, China conducted a live fire exercise in the Bohai Sea.
China reacted with mounting fury in December after the president-elect suggested he might revisit the issue of Taiwan’s independence as an opening gambit in trade negotiations with Beijing.
The drone incident is a uniquely aggressive move toward a US ship. The US has demanded the drone’s immediate return.
China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier battle group has conducted its first exercises with live ammunition, the country’s navy said, in a show of strength as tensions with the US and Taiwan escalate.
The One China policy, in which the United States continues to do business with Taiwan and promises to protect the island state in case of conflict, but does not recognize the Taiwanese government as a legitimate national government, has often required careful diplomatic maneuvering. Trump, in threatening that balance, is brewing chaos in the region even before he officially takes office.
Since Trump’s and Tsai’s phone call, China has sent military aircraft close to Japanese territory near the Miyako Strait and reportedly sent a bomber to circumnavigate disputed territory in the resource-rich South China Sea – flights its air force has described as “routine”.
And conducted live fire exercises.
And made public their move to add weapons to their artificial islands.
And stole a US drone.