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Iran Press TV

China: Sea drone to be returned after US origin verified

Iran Press TV

Sat Dec 17, 2016 9:1PM

China says its seizure of a US Navy underwater drone was carried out to ensure the "safe navigation of passing ships" in the South China Sea.

On Thursday, the Chinese navy launched a small boat and removed an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) from waters near a US oceanographic research vessel.

"In order to prevent this device from posing a danger to the safe navigation of passing ships and personnel, the Chinese lifeboat adopted a professional and responsible attitude in investigating and verifying the device," said Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun in a statement released on Saturday.

He added that the drone would be returned after verification that the device was in fact a US unmanned submerged device.

Earlier, China's foreign ministry announced that the military was in contact with its US counterparts over the drone to "return it to the US side in an appropriate manner."

It also accused the US of "hyping up" the incident, while calling on the Washington to stop surveillance in Chinese waters.

"China is resolutely opposed to this and requests the US stop such activities," it added. "China will continue to maintain vigilance against the relevant US activities and will take necessary measures to deal with them."

The seizure of the drone brought a formal protest from the United States and set off one of the tensest standoffs between Beijing and Washington in 15 years.

US President-elect Donald Trump accused China of stealing the drone from international waters.

China has repeatedly criticized US military presence in the region. Observers believe America's efforts to increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific region are aimed at containing China, and the policy has increase the chance of confrontation Beijing and Washington.

China accuses the United States of meddling in the regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea.

Tensions between China and the US escalated in November 2013 after Beijing declared an air identification zone over the East China Sea.

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