China criticises US reaction to drone seizure which Trump called 'unpresidented act'

President Obama warns President-elect Trump not to let the China policy slide 'into full conflict mode'IBTimes UK

China has accused the US of hyping up the seizure of a US Navy drone by a Chinese warship in the South China Sea in what President-elect Donald Trump called an "unpresidented act".

In a statement to Reuters, China's foreign ministry said the issue was being resolved.

"China decided to return it to the US side in an appropriate manner, and China and the US have all along been in communication about it," the statement read. "During this process, the US side's unilateral and open hyping up is inappropriate, and is not beneficial to the smooth resolution of this issue. We express regret at this."

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The drone was in international waters 92km (57 miles) north-west of the Philippines being guided by oceanographic survey ship, USNS Bowditch when a Chinese warship scooped it from the water.

No shots were fired in the incident, but the US says the drone's markings clearly stated it was American property and that should not be removed from waters, and the Chinese had no right to take it.

"It is ours," US Navy captain Jeff Davis told reporters quoted by Sky News. "It's clearly marked as ours. We would like it back, and we would like this not to happen again."

There is increasing concern that China's militarisation of the South China Sea and the US response to it could escalate into something worse than diplomatic rhetoric.

There are also fears Trump appears to have little interest in maintaining the status quo or observing the usual diplomatic niceties – which has been seen as one of the reasons so many voted for him.

This is the latest spat between China and the president-elect, who has frequently criticised China over trade deals and who broke with decades of diplomatic protocol by taking a call from Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen. Speaking at the White House on Friday (16 December) President Obama warned Trump not to provoke China too far.

"If you're going to up-end this understanding, you have to have thought through what the consequences are because the Chinese won't treat [Taiwan] like they treat some issues. They won't even treat it the way they treat issues around the South China Sea, where we've had a lot of tensions," said Obama.

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According to Politwhoops, Trump's "unpresidented" Tweet was deleted approximately one hour after it was sent. The original tweet was sent on an Android device. The corrected tweet was sent on an iPhone. This is believed to indicate that the amended tweet was sent by a member of Trump's transition team, as his personal phone is from the Samsung Galaxy range which use the Android operating system.

Politiwhoops records and displays tweets by US and European politicians which are later deleted.

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