Authorities have rewarded a farmer from Wenzhou, southeastern China with public recognition and a cash prize after he reported a "suspicious device" on a local beach which turned out to be a professional-grade Canadian-made drone, South China Morning Post reports, citing local media.
The farmer discovered the drone on a beach near his village in Zhejiang province in September, with analysis by authorities later confirming that the drone was fitted with HD camera equipment and the ability to dive to a depth of up to 600 meters. Information about the drone's exact type and its operator was not disclosed.
"This kind of device can collect important environmental data [near] our waters, as well as detect the activities of our Navy and acquire information from a near distance," a report by local newspaper Wenzhour Daily explained. "The situation of counterespionage is grim. The spy devices in our maritime environment are evolving every day," the paper added.
Several Canadian hi-tech companies, including St. John's, Newfoundland-based Kraken Inc. are engaged in the development and manufacture of underwater drones, including for military use, with Kraken Inc reported have secured a contract with a major defense contractor in late 2015.
The Chinese Navy last seized a US Navy underwater drone vehicle operating in the South China Sea in late 2016, leading to a brief diplomatic standoff which concluded after China returned the drone to the US, presumably after studying it.