US President Donald Trump is to impose 25% tariffs on $50bn worth of Chinese goods, accusing Beijing of intellectual copyright theft.
Tariffs that affect more than 800 products worth $34bn in annual trade are due to come into effect on 6 July.
The White House said it would consult on tariffs on the other $16bn of products, and would apply these later.
If China retaliates, as it has already pledged to do, the US will impose even more tariffs, Mr Trump warned.
Mr Trump said the tariffs were “essential to preventing further unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China, which will protect American jobs.”
The Chinese product lines that have been hit range from aircraft tyres to turbines and commercial dishwashers.
The US wants China to stop practices that allegedly encourage transfer of intellectual property – design and product ideas – to Chinese companies, such as requirements that foreign firms share ownership with local partners to access the Chinese market.
Earlier on Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang stressed again that all trade talks between China and the US would be void if Washington imposed trade sanctions: “If the US takes unilateral and protectionist measures that harm Chinese interests, we will respond immediately by taking the necessary decisions to safeguard our legitimate rights and interests.”
It is not only China that is concerned. Some within US business and industry are not happy with this disagreement, including some of those working in the sectors President Trump says he is protecting.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also warned that the Trump administration’s trade policies were likely to hurt the US economy, and undermine the world’s trade system.
She said a trade war would lead to “losers on both sides” and could have a “serious” impact.
‘Right on target’
The tariffs, in motion for months, have met with fierce criticism in the US from affected companies, as well as farmers and others fearful of retaliation.
The plans have also had a mixed political reaction, winning praise from Democrats and opposition from Republicans, who typically favour free trade policies.
Senator Chuck Schumer, a leading Democrat, said the president’s actions were “on the money”
He said: “China is our real trade enemy, and their theft of intellectual property and their refusal to let our companies compete fairly threatens millions of future American jobs.”
“While we await further details on this trade action, President Trump is right on target.”
The White House said the measures shouldn’t hurt consumers, pointing out that items such as televisions that were included on a draft list published in April, had been taken off the list.
Republican Kevin Brady said it was “encouraging” that the administration had streamlined the initial list but urged the White House to further narrow the items subject to the new import duties.
He said: “My message has been consistent: we need to hit our target, which is China and its deceptive and harmful trading practices. But I am concerned that these new tariffs will instead hurt American manufacturers, farmers, workers, and consumers.”
The US Chamber of Commerce said the plans were “not the right approach”.