Beijing is expected to demand the United States scale down its surveillance in the South China Sea when it hands back a seized US underwater drone, observers said on Sunday.
It was also expected to seek an expansion in the code for unplanned military encounters in the disputed waters to cover drones like the one seized by a Chinese warship off the Philippine coast near Subic Bay on Thursday.
The defence ministry said late on Saturday that the US had ratcheted up tensions but China would return the drone belonging to the US oceanographic survey ship Bowditch, “in an appropriate manner”.
The saga took another turn on Sunday when US president-elect Donald Trump tweeted: “We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back – let them keep it.”
Yuan Zheng, a US affairs specialist from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Beijing would convey to Washington its dissatisfaction over the US’ close reconnaissance activities in the South China Sea.
Zhang Zhexin, a professor from the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said he expected it would take about 10 days for the drone to be returned.
“China is worried that there will be more action from the US during its power transition period,” he said. “Beijing will possibly talk to the US about expanding the code for unplanned encounters at sea to include unmanned underwater vehicles.”.. see more