Not droning on

A US underwater ‘glider’ sparks fiery exchanges between Trump and China. They could be a sign of things to come.

By: Editorial | Published:December 22, 2016 3:04 am

Normally, you’d think of a drone as a bore, an entity that flatly blathers on, known for using and inducing dull monotones. However, a US navy research drone is clearly an exception. This underwater baby has sparked crackling exchanges, that too between the US president-elect and the Chinese Communist state. Neither entity is traditionally known for side-splitting one-liners. But this drone has managed to pierce through the silk tie-knotted etiquette of both. Interestingly, heated exchanges over the drone between America’s upcoming President Donald Trump and China’s permanent revolution reps haven’t happened within a gilded stateroom, where even the walls have no ears. Instead, the war of words has occurred in a world-wide akhara, where everyone can watch the clash of un-civilisations unfold.

It all began when, reacting angrily to China seizing the American drone apparently found swimming innocently, like The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, in a shiny blue South China sea, Donald Trump angrily tweeted, “China steals US navy research drone in international waters — rips it of water and take it to China in unpresidented act”. The president-elect later changed his own unprecedented spelling, but his un-presidented behaviour had the Chinese getting their chopsticks in a twist. Global Times, apparently a Chinese Communist Party-linked newspaper, noted about Trump, “He seemed emotionally upset but no one knew what he wanted to say… he is not behaving as a president who will become master of the White House in a month.”

Perhaps that is how the Chinese fortune cookie will crumble now, for Trump is certainly not like earlier “masters” of the White House — his style is more like He-Man, master of the universe. But given that the Middle Kingdom considers itself best suited for that job, expect more fiery exchanges enlivening diplomacy that normally drones on. The Chinese have finally returned America its drone, but not before Donald Trump tweeted, “We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back — let them keep it!” The world now awaits China’s riposte, unlikely to be a polite drone.

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