THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S LEADING EXPERT ON CHINA IS NOT AN ACTUAL EXPERT ON CHINA

Foreign Policy:
Since [Peter] Navarro’s [Trump’s leading economic expert on China] sudden emergence on the national political scene, he has resembled a gate-crasher to China experts who have spent years, even decades, forging their reputations.

More than a dozen top China specialists reached for this article — including those from academia, think tanks, the private sector, and those formerly in government — said they did not know Navarro or had little interaction with him, and only heard of him after he catapulted onto the scene as a member of Trump’s economic team.

Professors in Southern California — those most likely to have had a chance to meet Navarro, who has taught at the University of California, Irvine for years — said he made no effort to connect with China experts, whether economists, political scientists, or historians. “Navarro is not known in any China circles,” said James McGregor, a former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

“My recollection is that he generally avoided people who actually knew something about the country,” said Kenneth Pomeranz, a professor of Chinese history at the University of Chicago and formerly at UC Irvine. Patrick Chovanec, chief strategist at Silvercrest Asset Management and a frequent commentator on the Chinese economy, told FP, “The China that [Navarro] describes in Death by China bears only a tangential relationship to the China that I lived in for a decade.”

McGregor said Navarro’s books and his documentary “have close to zero credibility with people who know the country,” and are filled with “hyperbole, inaccuracies” and a “cartoonish caricature of China that he puts out.”

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