China captures U.S. Navy underwater drone

Hawaii Intelligence Digest, 17 December 2016, 16:40 hrs, UTC, Post #52.


Accessed on 17 December 2016, 1640 hrs, UTC.


According to “Stratfor Geopolitical Intelligence”, Chinese military forces have captured a U.S. Navy unmanned underwater drone about 50 to 100 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay, Philippines.  Washington has asked for the drone back through diplomatic channels.  This incident comes “amid increasingly harsh relations between Chinese leaders and the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.”  Trump has ruffled Beijing’s feathers by openly criticizing the “One China” concept and opening communications with Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province of mainland China.

Here is the Stratfor analysis of the brewing diplomatic crisis:

“The latest episode appears to be a fairly bold move on China’s part. By taking physical action in the South China Sea, Beijing could be trying to assert its claims in the contested waters, many of which were likely undermined by the recent Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling against China’s artificial island construction. That said, based on statements by U.S. defense officials, the incident supposedly occurred more than 50 nautical miles from the Scarborough Shoal, China’s nearest territorial claim. China is also, of course, attempting to address more direct security concerns. The underwater mapping that the Bowditch would have been engaged in can be used to support U.S. anti-submarine operations by identifying submarines’ most likely paths and, in doing so, improve the targeting and efficacy of anti-submarine monitoring and patrols.”

China is actively expanding its military presence in the South China Sea–an area disputed by several South East Asian nations.


The loss of the underwater drone is just the latest in a serious of deliberate moves by China to test the resolve of the United States and its South East Asian allies.  In the past, China has claimed historical and cultural ties to disputed islands and shoals in the region.  Occupation of disputed islands in the region will give China a threatening military presence in the South China Sea and the neighboring Spratly Islands.  A potential military confrontation between China and the United States is possible if the rhetoric between both sides isn’t toned down.

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Opinions expressed in this blog are mine unless otherwise stated.

Thanks for joining us today!

Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest


According to Reuters, China will return the stolen underwater drone. China accuses the United States of “hyperventillating” the incident.  Perhaps cooler heads will prevail.


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