Trump appoints ‘Death by China’ author as head of US trade council

An advertisement for a magazine featuring US President-elect Donald Trump on the cover at a news stand in Shanghai, December 2016.Image copyright
Getty Images

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Donald Trump’s election is attracting a great deal of interest in China

US President-elect Donald Trump has appointed economist Peter Navarro, an outspoken critic of China, as the head of a new national trade body.

Mr Navarro will lead the new White House National Trade Council and serve as director of trade and industrial policy.

The academic was an adviser to Mr Trump during the election campaign.

His books include The Coming China Wars and Death by China, in which he is deeply critical of Chinese policy.

During the election, the president-elect made trade issues a core campaign issue, criticising some deals made with countries like China and Mexico.

Mr Trump has already angered China by speaking with the Taiwanese president by phone, in violation of the US’s decades-long “one China” policy.

He has also openly criticised China in outbursts on Twitter, recently accusing them of devaluing their currency to impede US competition, among other claims.

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University of California, Irvine

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Mr Navarro is also an economics professor at the University of California, Irvine

The presidential transition team said the appointment of Mr Navarro “demonstrates the president-elect’s determination to make American manufacturing great again”.

In a recent article for the San Francisco Chronicle, Mr Navarro said he had encountered Mr Trump after the publication of his first book, and became a senior policy advisor to his campaign after lengthy correspondence.

“To Trump, while free trade is good, it must also be fair trade. Otherwise, we will get what we have gotten – a massive erosion of the US manufacturing base, stagnant wages for the last 15 years, and more than 20 million Americans who can’t find a good job at a decent wage,” he wrote.

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One of Mr Navarro’s books, Death by China, was adapted into a documentary film narrated by Martin Sheen, on which Mr Navarro is credited as both writer and director. It is available to watch for free on YouTube.

In its preamble, he urges viewers “help defend America and protect your family – don’t buy ‘Made in China’.”

The film highlights the sustained loss of American manufacturing jobs at a time of Chinese economic growth, as a well as the environmental impact of Chinese industry.

Many other economists, however, fear that aggressive moves against Chinese trade could prompt a “trade war”, with repercussions on both sides.