Allegations of US spying off China’s coast rang out after a technologically sophisticated maritime drone turned up in the net of a Chinese fishing ship this month.

According to multiple media reports featuring photos as evidence, the vessel is said to be a Wave Rider autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) manufactured by Boeing affiliate Liquid Robotics. The craft is used by both the US and British Royal Navy.

The development was just what the world needed: another source of tension in already fraught Sino-American relations.

Follow my gaze

In its report on the discovery, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) stated the craft was “a reconnaissance device secretly placed by a foreign country in China’s waters.” That cryptically vague identification was later stomped on by experts interviewed, who left little doubt about the drone’s US origin.

The three-meter long craft turned up in the fishing nets in the Yellow Sea near off Yancheng on April 16. It was…