- Peter Navarro, the US lead trade negotiator with China, was recently found to have published multiple books citing a fake expert that turned out to be his alter ego.
- Navarro had quoted “Ron Vara” (an anagram of his name) sharing exaggerated threats that China poses to the US. He later defended it as a “whimsical device.”
- China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday slammed Navarro’s “lies,” and said he has “threaten[ed] and undermine[d] normal international relations and order.”
- Navarro mocked China in responses, telling CNN: “A source close to Ron Vara indicates China has revoked his visa and lowered his social credit score.”
- He also joked that China “has banned all anagrams and humor in social media and non-fiction books.”
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President Donald Trump’s top trade adviser mocked the Chinese government after it criticized him for inventing a fake expert to bash China in his books.
Peter Navarro was found earlier this month to have cited a supposed Harvard-educated investor and China hawk named “Ron Vara” in his publications. Ron Vara turned out to be a nonexistent person, an anagram of Navarro’s name.
“Vara” is cited in many of Navarro’s books on economics, and has been quoted giving an extreme picture of the threat that China poses to the world economy.
Australian National University academic Tessa Morris-Suzuki first discovered that Vara didn’t exist when she tried to verify whether he attended Harvard or existed anywhere outside Navarro’s books.
Navarro has since admitted to inventing Vara, but claimed that the name is a “whimsical device and pen name” that didn’t serve as a factual source for his work.
The Washington Post pointed out on Tuesday that Navarro uses multiple fictional characters in his books, but never explicitly said that Vara was not real.
China on Tuesday slammed Navarro’s “lies” about the fake expert, saying that they “will threaten and undermine normal international relations and order.”
Navarro has been leading US efforts to negotiate a trade deal with China, which has still not come after months of deadlock and tariffs imposed on billions of dollars’ worth of US and Chinese goods. He has consistently supported raising tariffs on China.
Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, told reporters: “Frankly, this case triggered strong responses and astonishment worldwide. On some level, it shows that out of personal or political hidden intentions, certain people in the US can do whatever they can think of to contain and smear China without scruple.”
In his 2011 book “Death by China,” Navarro had cited Vara as saying “only the Chinese can turn a leather sofa into an acid bath, a baby crib into a lethal weapon, and a cellphone battery into heart-piercing shrapnel.”
Hua said: “It is absurd and extremely dangerous to make lies, spread lies and even formulate policies based on lies.”
“Such moves will threaten and undermine normal international relations and order. Apart from that, the US will hurt its own interests in the end,” she said.
Navarro appeared unfazed by China’s comments, and issued a statement mocking the China.
He told CNN: “A source close to Ron Vara indicates China has revoked his visa and lowered his social credit score. In a related event, the Ministry of State Security has banned all anagrams and humor in social media and non-fiction books.”
His comments refer to China’s controversial social credit system, which attempts to reward or punish citizens according to their behavior, and the country’s strict censorship of what it deems offensive content.
The White House and the US embassies in Washington and London have not yet responded to Business Insider’s request for comment on Navarro’s remarks.
The spokeswoman went on to accuse the US of lying “to fuel the wars in Iraq and Syria” and to criticize China over its actions in the oppressed region of Xinjiang, its response to the Hong Kong protests, the dangers of China-made 5G technology, and the country’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Beijing has long told foreign countries to stay out of national issues.
“We hope the international community including you, my journalist friends, will learn something from this case and carefully examine the ideas and views that certain people in the US are so desperately disseminating in their propaganda,” Hua said.