Trump names anti-China economist as trade council chief

Peter Navarro, who accuses Asian superpower of wreaking havoc on US economy, described as “visionary” by new president.

Peter Navarro
Navarro has also suggested a stepped-up engagement with Taiwan, which could further derail US relations with China [Getty Images]

President-elect Donald Trump has picked Peter Navarro – an economist known for his extreme anti-China stance who has accused the Asian superpower of waging an economic war against the United States – to head a trade policy council inside the White House.

Navarro is an academic and one-time investment adviser who has written a number of books and made a film describing China, the world’s second-largest economy, as a threat to the US economy.

Many fear his appointment could further destabilise political and trade relations between the two global powers.

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In a recent statement, Trump’s transitional team praised Navarro, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, who advised Trump during the presidential election campaign, as a “visionary” economist.

It said Navarro would “develop trade policies that shrink our trade deficit, expand our growth, and help stop the exodus of jobs from our shores”.

The Harvard-educated economist has blamed Beijing for the destruction of both US factories and people’s lives by flooding the US with “contaminated, defective and cancerous” exports. He has also accused China of being behind the theft of US intellectual property.

In a 2012 documentary based on his book Death by China: How America lost its manufacturing base, Navarro said China was responsible for the loss of 57,000 US factories and 25 million jobs.

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While Trump in the statement extolled the “clarity” of Navarro’s arguments and the “thoroughness of his research”, few other economists have endorsed Navarro’s ideas.

Marcus Noland, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, likened a tax and trade paper written by Navarro and Wilbur Ross, who has been named as Trump’s commerce secretary, to “the type of magical thinking best reserved for fictional realities” for what he said was its flawed economic analysis.

Trump, a Republican, made trade a centerpiece of his presidential campaign and railed against what he said were bad deals the United States had made with other countries. He has threatened to hit Mexico and China with high tariffs once he takes office on January 20.

China’s foreign minister on Thursday warned ties with the US will probably see new complications and the only way to maintain a stable relationship is by respecting each other’s “core interests”.

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Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s remarks appeared to underscore that China’s position on Taiwan is non-negotiable, weeks after Trump suggested he could re-evaluate US policy on the status of Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province.

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Wang told the state-run People’s Daily he will strive to boost cooperation with the US but foresaw “new, complicated and uncertain factors affecting bilateral relations” under the Trump administration.

China complained after Trump said the United States does not necessarily have to stick to its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of “one China”, questioning nearly four decades of policy.

Navarro has also suggested a stepped-up engagement with Taiwan, including assistance with a submarine development programme.

He argued that Washington should stop referring to the “one China” policy, but stopped short of suggesting it should recognise Taipei. “There is no need to unnecessarily poke the Panda,” said Navarro.

Source: News Agencies