State-run media in China on Monday accused Donald Trump of not behaving like a president because of his tweets on the Chinese navy seizing a United States drone in the South China Sea. An editorial in the Global Times said his tweets on the issue had “added the most fuel to fire”, giving rise to worries that he would treat relations between Beijing and Washington “as child’s play”.

“Trump is not behaving like a president who will become master of the White House in a month,” the editorial said. “He bears no sense of how to lead a superpower. Even the US military did not use the term “steal” to describe the move by the Chinese navy.” The editorial also accused the president-elect of disregarding the diplomatic principles established between both countries by challenging the “One-China” policy.

“Now people don’t know if Trump is engaged in a psychological war with China or he is just unprofessional...If he treats China after assuming office in the same way as [he does] in his tweets, China will not exercise restraint”. The Times called on Beijing to be “fully prepared for a hard-line Trump”.

On Saturday, Trump had said, “We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back.– let them keep it!” He had earlier accused China of stealing Washington’s drone, after his comments on December 12 that there was no point in continuing with the “One China” policy if Beijing did not make trade concessions.

China had seized the unmanned underwater vehicle that was deployed by the oceanographic vessel USNS Bowditch northwest of Subic Bay, off the coast of the Philippines.