Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro said Friday that "trust issues" with China are responsible for the lack of progress in trade negotiations, tamping down hope for progress in resolving the trade war when President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet later this month at the G-20 summit in Argentina.
Navarro also accused Xi of sending "globalist billionaires" to urge Trump to cut a bad deal to resolve the conflicts, saying the strategy would fail.
"The biggest problem is the trust issues," said Navarro in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "How do you have a deal with somebody if they won't even acknowledge your concern? It's Alice in Wonderland."
Trump has put tariffs on about half of all the goods China sends to the United States - everything from steel to toys and pet products - and he's threatened to tax everything China sells to the United States if Xi doesn't make a satisfactory deal soon.
US business executives have tried to intervene to prevent an escalation of the trade war, but Navarro slammed those efforts and labeled the business leaders doing it as "unregistered foreign agents" working on behalf of China.
"Globalist billionaires are putting a full court press on the White House in advance of the G-20 in Argentina," said Navarro. "They are unregistered foreign agents to pressure this president into some kind of deal."
The Washington Post has reported that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has been meeting with US business leaders to complain about Trump, but Navarro offered no evidence to back up his claim that American executives are actively working with Xi.
Navarro has been one of the top voices in the White House pushing Trump to ramp up pressure on China, Europe and other nations to rectify what he sees as years of foreign nations raiding the US "piggy bank." Many economists and business leaders, including former Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn, have criticised Navarro for not understanding economics.
Numerous businesses have warned that the tariffs are starting to raise their cost and impact their bottom lines, but Navarro insists that this is a fight to protect the interests of US businesses and workers for years to come, even if it means some short-term costs. He said the Chinese want to get Trump to the bargaining table to "keep having their way with us" as they did with past presidents.
The Chinese have offered to buy more US agricultural and energy products, but Navarro said Friday that isn't enough.
During the talk, he put up a lengthy list of grievances about unfair Chinese trade and business practices on the screen behind him that included China stealing US intellectual property and manipulating its currency.
"This is not about buying more soybeans or more coal. This is structural," said Navarro. "If you took 25 things off that list, there would still be enough things to hurt us."
Navarro, whose official title is assistant to the president and director of trade and industrial policy, said his job is to bring back blue-collar jobs to the United States. He called out Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs for investing overseas instead of at home.
"Wall Street, get out of those negotiations. Go to Dayton, Ohio. Bring your Goldman Sachs money to Dayton, Ohio, and invest in America," he said.