(Financial Times) — China has warned Donald Trump that “co-operation is the only correct choice” after the US president-elect tapped a China hawk to run a new White House trade policy office.
The appointment of Peter Navarro, a campaign adviser, to a formal White House post shocked Chinese officials and scholars who had hoped that Mr Trump would tone down his anti-Beijing rhetoric after assuming office.
Mr Navarro, a Harvard-trained economist and University of California Irvine professor, is the author of Death by China and other books that paint the country as America’s most dangerous adversary.
“Chinese officials had hoped that, as a businessman, Trump would be open to negotiating deals,” said Zhu Ning, a finance professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. “But they have been surprised by his decision to appoint such a hawk to a key post.”
Adding to rising tensions between the two countries, the US Office of the Trade Representative yesterday put Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce platform, back on its “notorious markets” blacklist of companies accused of being involved in peddling fake goods.
Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said Beijing would monitor the policy positions of the incoming US administration. “As two major powers with broad mutual interests, co-operation is the only correct choice,” she said on Thursday.
Speaking hours before the appointment of Mr Navarro, which was first reported by the Financial Times, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi told the People’s Daily, the ruling Communist party’s flagship newspaper, that China and the US faced “new, complicated and uncertain factors affecting bilateral relations”. He said the world’s two largest economies must respect each other’s “core interests”.
Cui Fan at the China Society of WTO Studies, a think-tank affiliated with China’s commerce ministry, warned that Beijing would respond to any unilateral action by the incoming Trump administration. “China is preparing itself for US trade actions,” he said. “China will respond with counteractions of its own.”
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