Among those steps are naming Beijing as a currency manipulator, raising tariffs on Chinese products, and more enforcement actions against Chinese dumping, especially steel.
"The Chinese are now frantically reading everything Navarro's written, becoming increasingly worried and scrambling to see who they can reach out to," said Elms. She believes a full-blown trade war may be inevitable if Trump continues to fill top posts by anti-China strategists.
In a July op-ed for CNBC, Navarro and Ross outlined how America's free trade agreements with countries like China have hurt American workers, resulted in chronic trade deficits and stifle economic growth. They warned that only a Reagan or a Trump-like figure could fix U.S. trade policy.
"Beijing will get used to the tensions between the two countries. If Washington dares to provoke China over its core interests, Beijing won't fear setting up a showdown with the U.S., pressuring the latter to pay respect to China," the Global Times editorial said.
But amid all the hype, many analysts cautioned that it was still too early to jump to conclusions.
"Navarro's views may soften over the time as he faces the challenge of actually dealing with China in light of all the issues that the U.S. has at stake in the bilateral relationship," Kenneth Jarrett, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, told CNBC.
"We're not hitting the panic button simply because of the announcement; we have to wait and see what he does."
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