The Chinese government has weighed in on news that US President Donald Trump’s top trade adviser faked a source in a book critical of Beijing, portraying the matter as evidence that Washington makes “policies based on lies” and pulling the US State Department into the controversy. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks after US media reported last week that the Harvard-educated economist Ron Vara quoted throughout Death by China – a book published in 2011 by current White House trade adviser Peter Navarro – is fictional . Further reprints of the book will “alert” readers about the faked source, said Navarro’s publisher, Pearson. The revelation that Vara is fake “shows that out of personal or political hidden intentions, certain people in the US can do whatever they can think of to contain and smear China without scruple”, Hua said on Tuesday at a news conference with foreign correspondents in Beijing. “It is absurd and extremely dangerous to make lies, spread lies and even formulate policies based on lies.” While declining to cite US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by name, Hua used a comment he made in an exchange with university students this year as proof that Washington employs falsehoods to “fuel” wars and garner support for its position on a range of global issues. “We did hear the acknowledgement by a certain person in the US that: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole. It is the glory of American experiment’,” Hua said, citing remarks Pompeo made in a question-and-answer session with students at Texas A&M University in April. “We did see lies are what the US used to fuel the wars in Iraq and Syria, and now they are again used on issues related to China’s Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Huawei and related 5G technologies, the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as the so-called ‘Chinese interference in US presidential elections’ as the Russian journalist asked earlier,” Hua said. Pompeo had made the comments in response to a question about how he balanced “condemnations with concessions in diplomacy with a controversial government such as Saudi Arabia”. Pompeo accuses China of ‘enormous rights violations’ in Xinjiang Washington’s top diplomat prefaced the remark with an explanation about how different countries require different diplomatic strategies. “In terms of how you think about problem sets, I – when I was a cadet, what’s the first – what’s the cadet motto at West Point? You will not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do,” Pompeo said, according to a State Department transcript. “I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. It’s – it was like – we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment. “And so when you deal with these countries, you have to just recognise they’re not all the same. Some of these difficult, nasty places want to partner with the United States and just haven’t gotten to the right place yet, just haven’t been able to move their own institutions.” Navarro, who has been referred to as the president’s “China muse”, had played an antagonistic role in the US-China relationship even before its publisher felt the need to add an alert about Ron Vara, whose full name is an anagram of the trade adviser’s surname. The self-directed film version of his book, released in 2012, won the praise of Trump, who called it “right on” and urged others to see it. Death by China includes chapter headings like “Death by blue water navy: why China’s military rise should raise red flags” and “Death by Chinese spy: how Beijing’s ‘vacuum cleaners’ are stealing the rope to hang Uncle Sam”. Trade, human rights and the unravelling of the China-US relationship Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who was a member of the House of Representatives when the book was published, endorsed it as a “clarion call” that “intricately details the clear and present dangers an anything but peaceful rising China poses to the world”. California-based human rights activist Tang Baiqiao wrote Death by China ’s foreword. In it, he said “most Americans never see … how the Chinese people have paid for all this ‘progress’ with a dramatically damaged ecosystem, corruption, social injustice, human rights abuse, poisonous foods, and most seriously, the moral degradation of their souls”. Tang told the South China Morning Post last week that he was not aware at the time that there was a fictional character referenced in the book.