U.S. President Donald Trump's trade advisor, Peter Navarro, regularly quoted in his books a fictional character who's a China hawk — like himself, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on Tuesday.
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, an emeritus professor of Japanese and Korean history at the Australian National University, discovered that a character named Ron Vara in Navarro's books is fictional, according to the report.
The name Ron Vara also appeared to be an anagram of Navarro's name, the report said.
Vara, said to be a military veteran and Harvard-trained economist, appeared roughly a dozen times in six of Navarro's books, the report said. Those books — which are supposed to be non-fiction — include "Death by China" and "The Coming China Wars: Where They Will Be Fought and How They Can Be Won," according to the report.
The White House didn't immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment sent after office hours.
Navarro, in a statement to the Chronicle, called Vara a "whimsical device and pen name I've used throughout the years for opinions and purely entertainment value, not as a source of fact."
He said it's "refreshing that somebody finally figured out an inside joke that has been hiding in plain sight for years."
Navarro, a long-time China hawk, has a reputation for feeding Trump anti-China sentiment, according to The New York Times. He has publicly supported and defended Trump's tariffs on China, and been part of the U.S. delegation that negotiates trade matters with Chinese officials.