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Donald Trump accuses China of 'unprecedented act' over stolen U.S. Navy underwater drone

HEMPSTEAD, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC's Lester Holt. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump slammed China early Saturday on Twitter for seizing a U.S. Navy underwater drone earlier this week.

"China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters - rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented act," Trump initially tweeted. However, he later deleted the tweet and retweeted it with the correct spelling of "unprecedented."

More from CNN:

In the latest encounter in international waters in the South China Sea region, the USNS Bowditch was sailing about 100 miles off the Philippine port at Subic Bay when the incident occurred, according to the official.

Bowditch had stopped in the water to pick up two underwater drones. At that point a Chinese naval ship that had been shadowing the Bowditch put a small boat into the water. That small boat came up alongside and the Chinese crew took one of the drones.

The US got no answer from the Chinese on the radio when it said the drone was American property, the official said. As they turned away, the Chinese did come up on the radio and indicated they were returning to their own operations.

The drone was likely taken because the Chinese assumed it was a spy vehicle, but according to U.S. officials, the drone was merely measuring oceanic conditions.

Still, the Pentagon on Friday demanded that the Chinese return the drone.

"We call upon China to return our UUV immediately, and to comply with all of its obligations under international law," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement, according to the New York Times.

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