While most Americans view China as friendly though not as an ally, those who favour demonising China seek to change both perceptions and realities. Starting in January, these trade protectionists will lead US policies in the White House.
Recently, President-elect Trump chose Harvard-trained economist Peter Navarro to head the newly-created National Trade Council (NTC) in the White House to oversee industrial policy. Targeting the trade deficit is expected to pave way to Trump’s “First America” trade protectionism.
While news media has portrayed Navarro appointment as a move toward trade protectionism in America, Navarro’s longstanding quest to have a voice in Washington and the White House has been downplayed. In reality, his trade commentaries have been published widely by the leading US media that now sees him as a fringe threat to pro-trade US interests.
In reality, Navarro is a Republican insider who advised President George W. Bush and Mitt Romney’s failed campaign. I warned that Navarro’s China demonisation has little to do with economics as it is taught in Harvard more than three years ago.
Indeed, Navarro and former Nucor CEO Dan DiMicco, who has been considered for Trump’s US Trade Representative, represent not just trade protectionism but a longstanding effort to mainstream anti-China bias in America. This effort is ridden by self-interested economic agendas and moral hazards, which I analysed in the following commentary that was originally published in August 2013.
In a New York Times op-ed of August 5, 2013, business professor Peter Navarro concluded that “buying ‘Made in China’ – whether steel for our bridges or dolls for our children – entails large costs… [which are] hurting our country — and killing our economy.”
The harsh content of the commentary was not new. But the venue – the editorial page of the New York Times –was. Such voices do not represent majority views in America. But nor are they any longer marginal.
While they reflect the concerns of a fragmented minority, they do share a common denominator: the quest to demonise China.
About the Author
Dr Dan Steinbock is the founder of the Difference Group and has served as the research director at the India, China, and America Institute (USA) and a visiting fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and the EU Center (Singapore). For more, see http://www.differencegroup.net/