China on Friday accused the United States of starting "the biggest trade war in economic history" as the two sides imposed steep new tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of each other's exports.
The Trump administration's 25% tariffs affect more than 800 Chinese products worth $34 billion such as industrial machinery, medical devices and auto parts. They kicked in just after midnight ET, which is noon in Beijing.
China's tariffs on US goods came into effect immediately afterward, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Friday.
Trump and his advisers argue the tariffs are necessary to pressure China into abandoning unfair practices such as stealing intellectual property and forcing American companies to hand over valuable technology.
Beijing insists it's the injured party.
"China is forced to strike back to safeguard core national interests and the interests of its people," the Commerce Ministry said in a statement on Friday. It accused the United States of "typical trade bullying."
The government said previously it would hit more than 500 US export items — including cars and major agricultural goods such as soybeans and meat — worth the same as the Chinese products targeted by the United States.
Even before Friday, the trade dispute between the world's top two economies had rattled markets and prompted warnings from companies of damage to their bottom lines and higher prices for consumers.CNN
American companies doing business in China are particularly worried.
"Increased tensions in the US-China economic relationship will negatively impact ... operations in China," William Zarit, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said in a statement Friday.