As The Drone Dispute Escalates, Who Will Blink First: China Or The U.S.?

By Victoria Stark - 19 Dec '16 11:13AM
  • Chinese Factory Produces Donald Trump Masks
  • (Photo : Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images) SHENZHEN, CHINA - OCTOBER 18: An employee wearing a mask of Donald Trump poses for a photograph at the Shenzhen Lanbingcai Latex Crafts Factory on October 18, 2016 in Shenzhen, China. Shenzhen Lanbingcai Latex Crafts Factory, located in the industrial area of Shenzhen with 20 to 30 employees, produces all sort of Halloween and party costumes and masks. It runs a small scale production of Donald Trump masks for local distribution within mainland China costing from 30 Renminbi onwards as the third Presidential Debate 2016 between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton happens on Thursday. Chinese media have derided the election as a risible variety show in which the candidates' spectacular personal failings have taken precedence over the business of governance.

The war of words between the American and Chinese governments over China's appropriation of a U.S. unmanned drone found in the Philippine Sea keeps on escalating. Beijing has already issued a statement prior to this incident that it is prepared to go on a hand-wrestling event with Washington. It was a reaction to U.S. president-elect Donald Trump's statement that he would ignore the traditional 'One-China' policy and as such, extend diplomatic relations to Taiwan. In recent news, it has denied Trump's allegations that their navy 'stole' the drone from the U.S. military. There seems to be no end to the exchange of innuendoes and insults, and everyone in the region watches intently to see what happens next.

According to Bloomberg, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, rebutted Trump's statements by saying that the Chinese navy was "responsible and professional" in lifting the drone from the disputed waters. The Chinese government was apparently inspecting it and was negotiating with the U.S. to return it as an act of good faith. A week ago, Trump tweeted an accusation of theft against Asia's mightiest economic and military power. In reply to their offer to send the drone back to America, the President-elect said, "Keep it."

An earlier report from the Washington Post elaborates more on why the China rescue submarine did keep the drone and denied the USNS Bowditch's request to return the machine immediately. The Chinese Defense Ministry referred to US' continuing military and reconnaissance excursions into their waters, despite requests not to. The appropriation of the drone was an act to secure the safety of the nearby Chinese ships.

The maritime territory, however, where the drone was secured does not legally belong to China, but the Philippines, according to a recent ruling from a UN Tribunal. In another time, there was a greater chance that the Southeast Asian archipelago would have taken the side of its traditional ally, the U.S. But President Rodrigo Dutertes' game-changing decision to forge stronger ties with China adds a measure of unpredictability to this scenario. In the meantime, everyone is watching as two superpowers stare at each other, waiting to see who will blink first.

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