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 claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values 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 PerdueAgency function is tied to how people feel about their job — that's bad news for USDA research Federal workers sue Trump administration over shutdown, allege work without pay violates 13th Amendment USDA extends deadline for farmers hurt by tariffs to seek aid 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.