- Publish Date
- Monday, 19 December 2016, 8:08AM
Donald Trump yesterday accused China of "unpresidented" action in its capture of a US drone, risking a diplomatic crisis that both sides had been seeking to avoid.
China said it would return the US navy's unmanned underwater glider, which it seized on Thursday (US time), "in an appropriate manner" after behind-the- scenes talks with the US, which had lodged a formal complaint over the incident.
But it warned against the "hyping up" of the event - which it said was "not beneficial" - a few hours after the president-elect sent out a misspelled tweet accusing China of theft of the vessel.
"China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters - rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented [sic] act," Trump tweeted in the early hours of yesterday morning.
The tweet was later deleted and re-posted with the correct spelling of 'unprecedented'.
China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters - rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 17, 2016
We should tell China that we don't want the drone they stole back.- let them keep it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2016
Both countries had been seeking to quietly resolve the delicate incident, with the Chinese foreign ministry saying it had been working behind the scenes with the US "all along".
President Barack Obama avoided passing comment at his end-of-year press conference on Friday.
Trump's message was itself an unprecedented action. President-elects usually wait until after they are inaugurated to begin making comments on sensitive diplomatic matters.