White House says Trump's top anti-China trade adviser will participate in talks despite report he 'blew up' at Steven Mnuchin

NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty ImagesWhite House economic adviser Peter Navarro (C)

  • Bloomberg reported that Peter Navarro, President Donald Trump’s hardline anti-China trade adviser, has behaved “erratically and unprofessionally” and was unhelpful during a recent trade trip to Beijing.
  • Navarro also “blew up” at Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during a trip to China according to news website Axios.
  • Despite speculation he wouldn’t partake in high-level trade talks with a Chinese delegation on Thursday, the White House said he would.

The White House said Wednesday that top trade adviser Peter Navarro, a staunch anti-China member of President Donald Trump’s economic team, will take part in Thursday’s meeting between Trump administration officials and Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top economic official.

Reports have signalled Navarro’s apparent waning influence on trade matters, leading to questions about his role in the White House. Bloomberg on Wednesday cited officials who said that during a recent trip to Beijing to try and diffuse tensions, Navarro did not act like a team player. They also said he has of late “behaved erratically and unprofessionally.”

Seperately, news website Axios reported that Navarro “blew up” at Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secreatry Wilbur Ross during the trip to China. Navarro was angry over the direction of the talks and cursed at Mnuchin according to Axios’ Jonathan Swan.

However, a White House official told Business Insider that Navarro would participate in the Thursday talks, which it said would be led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Separately, the White House said US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and top economic adviser Larry Kudlow, among others, would participate.

The US and China have held talks to update the two countries’ trading relationship. Tensions between the two nations have increased as Trump imposed tariffs on $US50 billion worth of Chinese goods, and the Chinese retaliated with tariffs of their own.

Navarro was brought on to the Trump campaign in 2016 after Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, came across the economist’s book, “Death By China,” during an Amazon search. Navarro’s strong anti-China views and scepticism of free trade helped to build Trump’s early economic agenda.

Liu met Wednesday with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill to talk about reducing the tariffs and ways to strengthen the US-China trade relationship. Additionally, lawmakers took the Chinese to task for alleged transfers of US intellectual property to Chinese firms.

“Today, we had a productive meeting in which our members urged Vice Premier Liu and his delegation to work with the Administration and Congress to reduce trade barriers, increase intellectual property rights protection, and create a level playing field for American companies and workers,” Rep. Kevin Brady, the Republican chair of the House Ways and Means committee, said in a statement.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.