Tags: China | Financial Markets | Trump Administration | peter navarro | ron vara | book | fiction

China Rips Peter Navarro for Fake Economist in Books

peter navarro looks on curiously during a news conference
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro (Andrew Harnik/AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 22 October 2019 06:09 PM

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro came under fire Tuesday by Chinese officials after admitting he cited a fictitious anti-Beijing economist in his books about threats to the U.S. economy.

"Certain people in the U.S. can do whatever they can think of to contain and smear China without scruple," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Tuesday.

Navarro, 70, acknowledged last week after The Chronicle of Higher Education disclosed he had invented and quoted an economist named Ron Vara, a variation of his name, in six of his nonfiction books on China.

The report cited Tessa Morris-Suzuki, a professor emeritus at Australian National University, who discovered Vara's name had appeared a dozen times in Navarro's books but no such person could be found.

Navarro, who holds a doctorate in economics from Harvard University, is a key player in President Donald Trump's trade talks with China. He was a professor emeritus of economics and public policy at the University of California-Irvine, before joining the Trump administration.

At a news conference in Beijing, Hua said that "such moves will threaten and undermine normal international relations and order.

"The U.S. will hurt its own interests in the end," she said.

However, Navarro dismissed Hua's criticism through making light of his alias: "A source close to Ron Vara indicates China has revoked his visa and lowered his social credit score.

"In a related event," he continued in a statement, "the Ministry of State Security has banned all anagrams and humor in social media and non-fiction books."

In his books, Navarro wrote that Vara was a captain in a reserve unit during the Persian Gulf War and a doctoral student in economics at Harvard University, CNN reports.

Vara, he wrote, "made a very large fortune making the very best out of very bad situations."

Morris-Suzuki told the Chronicle that her research had found that Ron Vara was expressing increasingly anti-Beijing views.

In one book, for instance, Vara is quoted as saying, "You've got to be nuts to eat Chinese food."

In a statement to CNN, Navarro admitted to inventing the Vara character as a "whimsical device and pen name" and purely for "entertainment value."

He noted as "refreshing that somebody finally figured out an inside joke that has been hiding in plain sight for years."

One publisher of Navarro's books, Prentice Hall, and its parent company, Pearson, told NPR that the alias constituted a breach of ethical standards.

Future editions of Navarro's books published by Pearson will include a publisher's note indicating that "Ron Vara" is a not an actual person, but an alias for Navarro.

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Chinese officials called out White House trade adviser Peter Navarro after admitting he cited a fictitious anti-Beijing economist in his books about threats to the U.S. economy.
peter navarro, ron vara, book, fiction, trade adviser, trade deal, trade war
Tuesday, 22 October 2019 06:09 PM
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