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Iran Press TV

US reaction to drone incident not conducive to resolution: China

Iran Press TV

Sat Dec 17, 2016 5:17PM

China has accused the United States of "hyping up" a recent incident in which an American underwater drone was captured by a Chinese naval vessel in the South China Sea.

China's Defense Ministry issued a statement on Saturday, saying it has been in touch with the US to "return it to the US side in an appropriate manner."

"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," it added.

The incident occurred on Thursday, when the Chinese navy launched a small boat and removed the unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) from waters near a US oceanographic research vessel.

The US said the drone "was lawfully conducting a military survey."

"It's a sovereign immune vessel, clearly marked in English not to be removed from the water- that it was US property," said an official. The Pentagon also viewed the incident seriously and demanded China to "return our UUV immediately."

"It is ours, and it is clearly marked as ours and we would like it back," said Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis. "And we would like this not to happen again."

China said a Navy vessel first discovered a piece of "unidentified equipment" and checked it to prevent any navigational safety issues, before discovering it was a US drone.

The Chinese Defense Ministry said it will return the drone, but called on Washington to stop surveillance in Chinese waters.

"China is resolutely opposed to this, and demands the US stops this kind of activity," the statement said, warning that the Navy will remain on alert and will take necessary steps to deal with these sort of activities.

Beijing, which claims most of the resource-rich South China Sea, has repeatedly criticized US military presence in the region, accusing it of meddling in the regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea.

Observers believe America's efforts to increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific region are aimed at containing China, a policy that has turned the region into a source of friction between the United States and China.

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