DEBKAfile December 17, 2016, 8:44 PM (IDT)

China’s ministry of defense Saturday promised to return a US Navy underwater drone in an “appropriate” manner after its seizure of the vehicle in the South China Sea sparked a diplomatic row with Washington. The promise came in a post on Beijing’s Welbo social media. President-elect Donald Trump slammed the theft in a Twitter message Saturday: “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters — rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act,”