The world is "shocked" that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro made up a fictitious anti-China economist in his books, China's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, adding that it is absurd and dangerous to make policy based on lies.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last week that Navarro invented and quoted an economist named Ron Vara.
It said that according to Tessa Morris-Suzuki, an emeritus professor at Australian National University, Vara's name had appeared a dozen times in six of Navarro's nonfiction books but no such person could be found.
Navarro said in a statement that the name he used was "a whimsical device and pen name I've used throughout the years for opinions and purely entertainment value, not as a source of fact".
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the international community had been "in uproar and shocked" by the report.
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"Making up and peddling lies, even making policy based on lies, is not only ridiculous, but also extremely dangerous," she told a daily news briefing.
"It will not only impact and threaten normal international relations and order, but in the long run, it will ultimately harm the interests of the United States itself."
The United States has made things up before, on Syria and Iraq, and continues to do so on issues such as Xinjiang and Hong Kong, she added.
"We hope that certain people in the United States will return to rationality as soon as possible," Hua said.
"Some opinions or arguments that certain people in the United States are trying to sell must be carefully screened."
The United States and China have been locked in a trade war for more than a year. Chinese state media, though generally not China's government, have repeatedly criticised Navarro, who has advocated a hard line against Beijing.
Washington and Beijing have levied punitive duties on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods, roiling financial markets and threatening global growth.
However the two sides have looked to try and end the dispute, with the United States announcing a "phase 1" deal with China on trade matters and suspending a scheduled tariff hike for October.