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‘Stand down,’ China hawk Peter Navarro tells Wall Street’s would-be brokers of trade war truce
White House trade council director Peter Navarro has said he is confident the US will prevail over China in the months-old trade war. Photo: TNS
Wall Street executives attempting to broker a truce in the United States’ trade war with China should stand down, Peter Navarro, a top White House adviser and influential China hawk, said at an event on Friday.
"The mission of these unregistered foreign agents, that’s what they are, is to pressure [US President Donald Trump] into some kind of a deal," Navarro said, referring to overtures by US financial executives ahead of Trump’s planned sit-down with China’s president, Xi Jinping, at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in three weeks.
“If there is a deal, it will be on Trump’s terms, not on Wall Street’s terms,” Navarro said. “Trump has done an amazing job. He doesn’t need the help of Wall Street, he doesn’t need the help of Goldman Sachs.”
The outspoken economist – who wrote a book titled Death by China: Confronting the Dragon – A Global Call to Action – did not name any individuals during his remarks at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
But Wall Street executives, including former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson, have met with Chinese leaders regularly.
Paulson warned in a speech at a Bloomberg forum in Singapore on Tuesday that the trajectory of US-China ties posed “a risk to the very functioning of the international system".
The former US treasury secretary urged China to further open its market, protect intellectual property and work with the US on big issues like North Korea. But he also encouraged Washington to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership and generally open up trade negotiations with China.
In September, senior Wall Street executives met in Beijing with Chinese officials and bankers to find ways to strengthen US-China financial ties, The New York Times reported. The group – which included executives from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and the private equity firm Blackstone Group – were planning to meet with Xi’s right-hand man, Vice-President Wang Qishan, the Times reported.
Navarro’s remarks came with all eyes focused on whether the world's two largest economies can reach a truce in their months-long tit-for-tat trade war.
In Tuesday’s midterm elections, Trump’s Republican Party lost control of the House of Representatives while slightly adding to their majority in the Senate.
Analysts have suggested the trade war could move up in priority on Trump’s agenda as the president seeks to score political points in foreign policy, with the Republicans’ domestic agenda potentially stalled by the Democrats’ majority in the House.
Navarro, the director of the White House National Trade Council, has said he is confident the US will prevail in the trade battle.
He is seen as closely aligned with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who spearheaded his department’s investigation into China’s trade and investment policies.
That inquiry provided the justification for the US trade office slapping punitive tariffs on US$50 billion worth of annual imports from China in July, plunging the two nations into a confrontation filled with further retaliatory tariff actions.
In Death by China, Navarro called China “the planet’s most efficient assassin”, accusing it of transgressions ranging from unfair trade practices to targeting global dominance in new industrial sectors to attempting to undermine the US food supply chain.

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