Trump trade adviser: Tariff threats serve as a 'wake-up call' for Americans about Chinese policies

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Sunday that he believes President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE's exchange of tariff threats with Beijing will serve as a "wake-up call" for Americans about unfair Chinese economic policies.

"How cynical it is for the Chinese, basically, rather than respond graciously and stop doing all this bad stuff they're doing, to attack American farmers? I think that's going to be a wake-up call for Americans," Navarro said on NBC's "Meet The Press."

"We've changed now our designation in the national security strategy of China to a strategic competitor. What does that mean? It means that they are in competition with us over economic prosperity and national defense. And this is a competition the president takes very, very seriously," he added.

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The Trump administration and China have traded threats in recent weeks over potential tariffs. After the U.S. unveiled a list of $50 billion in potential tariffs on Chinese products, Beijing responded with plans to implement billions of dollars in reciprocal penalties on U.S. soybeans, cars and other items. 

Trump then ratcheted up his rhetoric, saying his administration would consider an additional $100 billion in penalties on Chinese products.

The back-and-forth has prompted concerns that Trump will spark a global trade war and hurt American workers.

Midwestern representatives in particular have expressed worries that any tariffs will disproportionately hurt their constituents who produce soybeans and other crops that China imports.

Navarro dismissed those concerns, noting that the president tasked Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueOn The Money: GOP angst grows over Trump's trade war | Trump promises help for 'Patriot Farmers' | Markets rebound | CBO founding director Alice Rivlin dies | Senate to vote on disaster aid bill next week GOP angst grows amid Trump trade war California jury links weedkiller Roundup to cancer, awards couple billion MORE with crafting a plan to defend American farmers from potential negative effects of any tariffs.

Navarro did not know any details of a potential plan, saying it's up to Perdue and the president to implement the plan.