Donald Trump has named economist Peter Navarro to lead a newly created White House council on trade, in another sign that he intends to shake up relations with China.
The University of California-Irvine professor, who advised Mr Trump during the campaign, has sharply criticised China’s economic and military policies in books and videos. In addition to leading the new White House National Trade Council, Mr Navarro will be director of trade and industrial policy.
The Trump transition team said the creation of the council “demonstrates the president-elect’s determination to make American manufacturing great again”.
Mr Trump says China’s unfair trade practices are responsible for wiping out American factory jobs. US manufacturers have cut five million jobs since 2000.
Mr Trump has threatened to impose taxes on Chinese imports and to label China a “currency manipulator” for allegedly pushing its currency lower to give Chinese exporters a price advantage.
Mr Navarro, author of Death By China, also endorses a hard line toward China. He has dismissed warnings that imposing sanctions on China could trigger a destructive trade war if China retaliates by targeting US imports.
He and Wilbur Ross – an investment banker chosen to be Mr Trump’s commerce secretary – have argued that China and other US trade partners have more to lose in a trade conflict because they depend so much on the US market.
Mr Trump has already rattled US-China relations. Earlier this month, he broke protocol by taking a call from the president of Taiwan. China views Taiwan as a renegade province and considers any acknowledgement that it has its own head of state as a grave insult.
The president-elect also said he did not feel bound by the long-standing “one-China” policy in which the United States agrees that Taiwan and the Chinese mainland are part of a single China.