Donald Trump nominates China critic Dennis Shea as deputy US trade representative

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - President Donald Trump has nominated Mr Dennis Shea, vice-chairman of a congressional commission that has been highly critical of China, as deputy United States Trade Representative (USTR), the White House said on Tuesday (July 11).

The move adds another China trade hawk to Mr Trump's trade policy team, joining USTR Robert Lighthizer, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Mr Peter Navarro, the White House director of trade and industrial policy.

Mr Shea is vice-chairman of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which is charged with annually assessing the security, economic and trade relationship between the two countries, including China's compliance with its commitments to the World Trade Organisation.

In November, the panel recommended that US lawmakers take action to ban China's state-owned firms from acquiring US companies, arguing that Beijing uses state-backed firms to advance its national security objectives.

It said lawmakers should strengthen the role of the Committee on Foreign Investments in the US, an inter-agency government panel that conducts national security reviews of acquisitions by foreign firms.

The US has seen a growing wave of Chinese acquisitions in recent years, especially in the technology sector. "Chinese state-owned enterprises are arms of the Chinese state," Mr Shea told a news conference at the time the recommendation was released.

"We don't want the US government purchasing companies in the United States, why would we want the Chinese Communist government purchasing companies in the United States?"

Mr Shea has served a decade on the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission and has been its chairman or vice-chairman each year since 2012.

A Harvard-trained lawyer, Mr Shea has worked in and around government for much of the past 30 years, including as senior adviser to former Republican senators Bob Dole and Elizabeth Dole and as assistant secretary for policy development and research at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

He also has worked as a lobbyist, forming his own firm, Shea Public Strategies, in 2010.

The nomination, which has been submitted to the US Senate for approval, comes about five weeks before the Trump administration is planning to start the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.