Hard-liner on China picked for trade post

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHONG NAN zhong­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump named Peter Navarro, an econ­o­mist who has urged a hard line on trade with China, to head the newly formed White House Na­tional Trade Coun­cil, the tran­si­tion team said on Wed­nes­day.

Navarro, 67, is a pro­fes­sor at Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine, who ad­vised Trump dur­ing the cam­paign. His book Death by China: How Amer­ica Lost Its Man­u­fac­tur­ing Base was made into a doc­u­men­tary film.

In re­sponse to re­ports of Navarro’s ap­point­ment, the For­eign Min­istry said Bei­jing is pay­ing close at­ten­tion to Trump’s tran­si­tion team and the pos­si­ble di­rec­tion of pol­icy.

“China and the US have broad com­mon in­ter­ests. It is the only cor­rect choice for the two coun­tries to co­op­er­ate,” min­istr y spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing told a daily news brief­ing . “We hope the US works with China to main­tain the healthy, sta­ble de­vel­op­ment of ties, in­clud­ing busi­ness and trade ties.”

The choice is seen as a pre­lude to a po­ten­tial slow­down in US in­vest­ment in China, ac­cord­ing to sev­eral Chi­nese ex­perts, who also cau­tioned that a trade war could en­sue.

Chai Yongzhi, a re­searcher at the Bei­jing-based China Coun­cil for the Pro­mo­tion of In­ter­na­tional Trade, said Navarro might per­suade US com­pa­nies to slow their in­vest­ment in China by of­fer­ing them more at­trac­tive terms for in­vest­ing do­mes­ti­cally.

“With Navarro’s nom­i­na­tion, it won’t be easy for China to gain mar­ket econ­omy sta­tus as stip­u­lated by the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion any­time soon,” Chai said.

In an opin­ion piece in For­eign Pol­icy mag­a­zine in Novem­ber, Navarro and an­other Trump ad­viser, Alexan­der Gray, re­it­er­ated the pres­i­dent-elect’s op­po­si­tion to ma­jor trade deals.

“Trump will never again sacri­fice the US econ­omy on the al­tar of for­eign pol­icy by en­ter­ing into bad trade deals

like the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment, al­low­ing China into the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion and pass­ing the pro­posed TPP,” Navarro and Gray wrote. “Th­ese deals only weaken our man­u­fac­tur­ing base and abil­ity to de­fend our­selves and our al­lies.”

China has been one of the fastest-grow­ing mar­kets for US ex­ports, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Com­merce. Bi­lat­eral trade between China and the US has reached $558.39 bil­lion, mak­ing China the larg- est trade part­ner for the US, re­plac­ing Canada. The US was China’s top ex­port mar­ket and fourth-largest im­port mar­ket.

Yu Jian­long, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the China Cham­ber of In­ter­na­tional Com­merce, said that with the trade sur­plus, the coun­try doesn’t want a trade war with the new US ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“How­ever, if the US keeps im­pos­ing in­ad­e­quate trade remedy in­ves­ti­ga­tions on Chi­nese prod­ucts, the coun­try would have no choice but to con­front the chal­lenge,” Yu said.

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