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Trump vs. China: US Underwater Drones Used for Oceanographic Explorations Illegally in South China Sea?

Dec 19, 2016 09:31 AM EST
US Underwater Drones Used for Oceanographic Explorations Illegally in South China Sea?
Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) are used by the U.S. Navy to measure and record underwater data.
(Photo : Marco Garcia/Getty Images)

According to reports, US President-elect Donald Trump slammed China for allegedly "stealing" an oceanographic device owned by the US Navy straight off the water. Many people were appalled by how Trump impulsively reacted to the incident and accused China of stealing, creating even more tension between the two countries. But were these U.S. underwater drones legally placed in the South China Sea?

This is not the first time an oceanographic exploration device has been found in the area. Just two months ago, two mysterious underwater were located on the shores of the Philippines near the South China Sea. According to a local news report, local fishermen found oceanographic exploration devices to be floating near the shore and feared it to be a bomb set out for their islands.

The Verge explained that these kinds of device are unarmed and are unmanned and are simply "gliders" that scout the sea. These devices cannot be controlled via remote as radio signals are harder to send through water. Instead, these oceanographic machines are completely autonomous, and the navigate through computers and sensors.

According to a report from the Independent UK, the unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) which has been obtained by China is nothing but a device that measures and records oceanographic data, including temperature, murkiness, and salinity. The program to collect data within the area has been claimed to be completely legitimate and does not violate any international law.

The device has been claimed to not pose any threats to any nation as it has been found to be recording data in the "high seas" of the Philippine exclusive economic zone. This means that the U.S. has not violated any international law by sending out their gliders in the area. 

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