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China warns United States after Gray Eagle drone deployment

By Elizabeth Shim
China warns United States after Gray Eagle drone deployment
China criticized the recent U.S. deployment of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle in South Korea. The drone is capable of surveillance of the entire Korean peninsula. Photo by Yonhap News Service/UPI

March 14 (UPI) -- China issued a message of warning to the United States after the U.S. military recently deployed its new Gray Eagle attack drone in South Korea.

Beijing's Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular press briefing on Tuesday that "concerned countries that truly want peace and stability in the region should hit the brakes and try to put out the fire," referring to the situation on the Korean peninsula, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

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"At present the situation on the Korean peninsula is very complicated and sensitive," Hua said. "Even for China, the situation is too complex."

The Chinese government official then said the present situation is not a time to "add fuel to the fire," referring to the U.S. drone deployment, according to the South Korean press report.

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"Peace and stability on the Korean peninsula is in the common interest and the common responsibility of each country," Hua said. "Each country must maintain calm and do things that help and not aggravate tensions on the peninsula."

The drone is to be permanently stationed at Kunsan Air Base south of Seoul, according to U.S. Forces Korea.

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The MQ-1C Gray Eagle is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aircraft system that can fly at a maximum speed of 170 mph for 30 hours without stopping. The aircraft is capable of continuous 24-hour flight and surveillance of the entire Korean peninsula.

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China is also wary of the U.S. missile defense system THAAD, which is to be deployed in South Korea to deter North Korea missiles.

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