- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 20, 2020

China is escalating its economic aggression and information warfare against the U.S. in a bid to defeat President Trump in November’s election, one of the president’s top economic advisers said this week.

“Their near-term goal is to help defeat Donald J. Trump,” said Peter Navarro, director of the White House office of trade and manufacturing policy, in a speech to the Hudson Institute on Monday evening.

“Their broader strategic goal is to convince the world that Communist China’s authoritarian political and social systems and command and control economy are far superior to an American exceptionalism built upon free markets, free persons, democratic elections, the rule of law and an independent judiciary.”

China is directly to blame for the deaths of 200,000 Americans from the pandemic, said Mr. Navarro, a key voice on China and trade policy. The White House aide also condemned what he called “useful idiots” in the U.S. media and private sector who are parroting Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda.

“Regrettably, far too many of the American media, with their blatant hyperpartisanship, are helping to advance this corrosive and toxic CCP narrative,” he said. “In doing so, far too many American journalists today are merely serving as what Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin viewed as ‘useful idiots’ for the CCP.”

Mr. Navarro defended Mr. Trump’s get-tough approach on China, saying the president has cracked down hard on China’s illicit technology theft, unfair trade practices and human rights abuses.

Mr. Trump’s economic nationalism, he argued, has begun to reverse decades of economic losses that harmed American workers and created a “blue-collar carnage.”

Globally, China is seeking to use its massive population and increasing military power to subvert and overthrow the rules-based international system, Mr. Navarro said.

“In these efforts, [China] seeks nothing less than to replace America’s arsenal of democracy with the CCP’s own arsenal of dictatorship,” he said.

The Trump administration has pushed back by imposing over $350 billion in tariffs on Chinese products, fined and sanctioned telecommunications companies Huawei Technologies and ZTE, and moved to ban popular mobile apps such as TikTok and WeChat that U.S. officials warn are being used to monitor Americans and steal their personal data.

Mr. Navarro, who got a PhD in economics at Harvard and taught at the University of California, Irvine’s business school for more than two decades, offered a blistering critique of Chinese trade officials who held talks in Washington on Jan. 15. The Chinese officials knew of the disease outbreak, he contended, but provided no information to any White House officials.

“Instead, these Chinese Communist Party officials simply smiled at us, ate our food, shook our hands, and signed the phase 1 trade deal,” he said.

Mr. Navarro compared news outlets like CNN, MSNBC and The New York Times to China’s Communist Party newspaper Global Times in their relentless attacks on the Trump administration and support for Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden.

“This devolution of America’s Fourth Estate into partisan hacks and Democrat super PACs is not just an existential threat to our eternal American quest towards a more perfect union,” he said.

“The rise of a partisan fake news conglomerate — and this is what the mainstream media misses — also provides aid, comfort, and assistance to a Chinese Communist Party intent on setting the American sun in Asia.”

Republicans in Capitol Hill have been amplifying the administration’s anti-China critique in recent days. GOP lawmakers on the House China Task Force on Tuesday released draft legislation that among its more than 130 recommendations would formally declare Beijing as the primary economic national security threat the U.S. faces.

“We can no longer stand back as [China] ramps up its military aggression, weaponizes the supply chain, and brazenly attacks the democratic values that underpin American society and global prosperity,” Rep. Michael McCaul, the Texas Republican who chaired the task force, said in a statement.

On the global pandemic, Mr. Navarro said China is directly to blame for “infecting our own nation and our president with a deadly virus.”

The most egregious action by the Chinese government was to permit travel by tens of thousands of potentially infected Chinese nationals to travel to major cities around the world, enhancing the spread of the disease.

“The American people want to know where the CCP virus originated from,” Mr. Navarro said. “The CCP must stop hiding this information from the free world.”

• Lauren Toms contributed to this report.

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