Last week, U.S.-China relations took a series of strange turns, the most alarming of which saw China’s seizure of a U.S. naval underwater drone. After a strained and tense period, Chinese officials ultimately returned the drone on Monday night, asserting that the entire incident had been unimportant and overly dramatized by Washington.
While the United States does have a history of reading aggression in Chinese movements, the incident was an alarming one — especially given its timing.
On Thursday, December 15, China seized the drone, later claiming that it was a safety hazard. While the drone itself was relatively cheap and low-grade by military standards, the move was still considered hostile. The Pentagon argued that the drone was in international waters at the time of its capture, and the United States was quick to react, demanding the drone’s return. After some back and forth, including a response from President-elect Donald Trump on Twitter, the drone was handed back into U.S. custody.
The seizure of an unmanned American drone in international waters was an unprecedented move that thwarted diplomatic norms, but it was hardly the worst possible scenario two nuclear-armed superpowers could find themselves in. Relations between the United States and China have always been a delicate subject, but the election of Trump has thrown traditional diplomacy between the two superpowers into disarray, alarming policymakers and setting scholars on edge.
Trump has never made any secret of his disdain for China, making the nation a frequent talking point during his time on the campaign trail, and taking to his Twitter account more than once to lob insults and taunts at the nation, which remains the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt. Read full post here