China is reacting angrily following news that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Peter Navarro, author of the book and film Death by China, to head the new White House National Trade Council.
The London Financial Times reported that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said immediately after the appointment that Beijing is now monitoring the policy positions of the incoming Trump Administration: “As two major powers with broad mutual interests, co-operation is the only correct choice.”
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi later told the People’s Daily, the official Communist Party news organ, that China and the U.S. now faced “new, complicated and uncertain factors affecting bilateral relations”. He emphasized to the Financial Times that the world’s two largest economies must respect each other’s “core interests.”
Cui Fan of the China Society of WTO Studies, a Commerce Ministry funded think-tank, warned, “China is preparing itself for US trade actions” from the Trump administrations. He added that in retaliation for any unilateral U.S. actions, “China will respond with counteractions of its own.”
Breitbart News highlighted that despite Peter Navarro holding a Harvard Ph.D. and being a tenured Professor of Economics at the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine, he is not only America’s leading “trade hawk” on China, but he also wrote ‘The Coming China Wars’ last year to argue that China is a military threat to the United States.
Death by China, published in late 2011, provided a step-by-step indictment of how China had systematically flooded U.S. markets with illegally subsidized products; wiped-out over 50,000 American factories; caused 25 million Americans to be unable to find a decent job; and left the U.S. than $3 trillion dollars in debt to the world’s largest totalitarian nation.
Navarro has stated that Donald Trump read Death by China and saw the film version before reaching out to him, in advance of running for President. Once the long-shot bid for the presidency was launched, Trump appointed Navarro as a campaign adviser.
The Financial Times reported that after Trump’s unanticipated victory, Chinese diplomats have been scrambling to set up meetings with current and former U.S. officials who focus on Asia to try to try to discern what President-elect Trump is thinking.
But neither Obama administration trade appointees nor any of the State and Commerce Department bureaucrats have had much contact with the Trump transition team that is being run out of Trump Tower in New York, according to the building’s elevator cam, which now serves as a 24-hour Reality TV show.
The only high-level contact between China and the Trump leadership team was top Chinese State Security Councilor Yang Jiechi, who reportedly met with Trump’s incoming National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn on December 13 in New York. The meeting was described by the Chinese press as the first public contact between a top Chinese diplomat and Trump’s team after his election.
CNN reported that Trump’s transition team is discussing a proposal to impose tariffs as high as 10 percent on imports to spur U.S. manufacturing. It is believed that a tariff could be implemented as a Presidential executive action or as part of a sweeping tax reform package.
“Chinese officials had hoped that, as a businessman, Trump would be open to negotiating deals,” said Zhu Ning, professor of finance professor at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. “But they have been surprised by his decision to appoint such a hawk to a key post.”