China expert Pillsbury scolds Navarro over rhetorical shots at Beijing: 'I think that's a mistake'

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Hudson Institute senior fellow Michael Pillsbury urged White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro to "modify'" his public comments about China Monday after Navarro accused China President Xi Jinping of "profiteering" from the coronavirus pandemic.

"Peter ... is a friend of mine, I admire him," Pillsbury told "Bill Hemmer Reports," but added "for Peter to imply that Xi Jinping deliberately did all this, that’s quite a split from the President of the United States."

"I advise Peter to modify this," Pillsbury added. "He has changed things before. Maybe [there's] one chance in a thousand Xi Jinping did all these things, but the president [Trump] says there is no evidence yet, so this seems to be premature, for me, for Peter to pin everything on Xi Jinping himself."


Navarro, who is also the National Defense Production Act policy coordinator, made the comments April 19 on Fox News' “Sunday Morning Futures” in respose to a report that there is increasing confidence among U.S. officials that the COVID-19 outbreak likely originated in a Wuhan laboratory, not as a bioweapon but as part of China's attempt to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States.

“First of all, the virus was spawned in China," Navarro told host Maria Bartiromo. "Second of all, they hid the virus behind the shield of the World Health Organization. The third thing they did was basically hoard personal protective equipment and now they’re profiteering from it."

"He did say 'they' quite a few times," Pillsbury told host Bill Hemmer Monday. "China 'spawned' the virus, 'they' sent it out, 'they' did this, 'they' did that ... I think that’s a mistake. I think his boss, President Trump has said several times, this might have been a mistake."


Earlier this month, Trump announced the launch of a full-scale investigation into whether the virus did in fact escape from a Wuhan lab and pledged the U.S. government's full resources to find out how the deadly pandemic managed to spread around the world.

Asked specifically about the origins of the virus, Trump stopped short of assigning blame, but assured the public he was looking into it and was "going to find out."

Fox News' Talia Kaplan contributed to this report.