Ron Vara was ‘made up’ by Navarro: Peter’s ‘whimsical’ invention is a step too far
Note: The following article is taken from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs."
Director of the White House National Trade Council, Peter Navarro, has admitted he quoted a fictional character - made up using an anagram of his last name - in multiple books on economics, which assert the threat posed by China to the U.S.. He called the invention of the apparent China expert, ‘Ron Vara’, a “whimsical device and pen name…for opinion and purely entertainment value, not as a source of fact.”
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro pauses while speaking after a television interview at the White House, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Washington. [Photo: AP/IC]
Navarro made the statement after the Australian scholar, Tessa Morris-Suzuki, a professor emeritus of Japanese history at the Australian National University, revealed Ron Vara’s true identity within an article which studied the heated anti-China language Navarro used in his books, including the popular 2011 publication, Death by China. In the statement, Navarro said it was "refreshing that somebody finally figured out an inside joke that has been hiding in plain sight for years."
But the ‘joke’ doesn’t seem to have impressed Professor Morris-Suzuki, who stated, “once he [Ron Vara] started to be used as a source of fear and loathing about China, and of messages which readers are likely to believe about the dangers of various Chinese products, the joke wore very thin.” Pearson, the publisher behind Navarro’s Death by China, has said the White House economic adviser breached strict editorial standards and the company confirmed it is “amending our current inventory and all future reprints and editions to alert readers that this book contains a fictional character.”
As a major architect behind Washington’s trade war with Beijing, 70-year-old Navarro has drawn a lot of criticism for his unreasonable propositions on trade and the economy. Mainstream economists have accused him of creating a new wave of thought, dubbed the "stupid school." By quoting phony sources that he himself fabricated, Navarro depicted China as an evil currency manipulator and accused it of being a deadly threat to the United States – a blatant attempt to curry favour with far right figures in Washington. Interestingly, Navarro had been a long-time supporter of the U.S. Democratic Party until he received an invitation from the White House in 2016.
According to the U.S. based ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’, “Navarro doesn’t have a background in Chinese studies, doesn’t speak the language, and reportedly made his first trip to the country only last year.” But that hasn’t stopped him from being the most radical White House advocator of the “China threat” theory and becoming the major force behind the U.S. tariff wars against China.
For a supposedly high-ranking U.S. official, Navarro has made some rather basic errors within his claims about the impact on U.S. companies and families caused by extra tariffs. He even confused tariffs with the value-added tax. However, despite some mainstream media, including the Wall Street Journal, ridiculing and refuting Navarro’s remarks, his stance has played well within the White House. He has been described as President Trump’s “spirit animal”, with his radical views on China even considered a symbol of patriotism.
So why is such a person – a self-confessed fabricator of facts and inventor of political speculation – so popular at the White House? The answer goes back to the Cold War – with ‘tin foil hat’ and zero-sum thinking a legacy of one of the most paranoid eras of the American world view. Some U.S. politicians and political speculators are knowingly telling fraudulent stories, dressed up as the truth. The world should stay vigilant to Navarro and his fellow ‘alternative facts’ espousers. They are capable of undermining world peace and development and the global knock-on effect of their words and claims comes at a great price.