The United States said Tuesday it will impose 10 percent tariffs on an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports as soon as September, a move that would escalate a trade war between the world's two largest economies.
China quickly responded within hours of the U.S. announcement, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying calling it "typical trade bullying" and saying Beijing will "take necessary countermeasures" to protect its legitimate rights and interests.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released a list of 6,031 items to be subject to the punitive duties -- ranging from consumer goods such as air-conditioning machines, furniture, tobacco and handbags to agricultural and fishery products -- in response to China's alleged intellectual property and technology theft.
It appears certain that China will strike back on U.S. imports, a development economists say could affect an otherwise solid world economy and roil global financial markets.
Amid growing fears about the outlook for China's export-oriented economy, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index briefly dropped more than 2 percent in Wednesday's trading session, while the yuan fell against the U.S. dollar.
The publication of the list began a two-month process that includes a hearing slated for Aug. 20-23 and a collection of post-hearing rebuttal comments by Aug. 30 before the list is finalized, according to U.S. officials.
The action came after President Donald Trump's administration slapped additional 25 percent duties on $34 billion in Chinese imports on Friday, the first time that Trump has invoked levies on Beijing after threatening to do so for months.
China immediately retaliated with duties on the same value of U.S. goods.
The U.S. tariffs, part of the first round of punitive measures on $50 billion in Chinese goods, are based on the administration's Section 301 investigation into Beijing's "unfair" trade practices.
In announcing the plan to tax $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said, "For over a year, the Trump administration has patiently urged China to stop its unfair practices, open its market, and engage in true market competition."
Lighthizer condemned the Chinese behavior, saying, "Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against U.S. products."
"There is no justification for such action," he said in a statement. Lighthizer added the Chinese behavior puts the future of the U.S. economy at risk.
The Trump administration is considering imposing additional 25 percent duties on $16 billion in Chinese imports in August.
Furthermore, Trump said last week that the United States could ultimately raise tariffs on more than $500 billion in Chinese products -- nearly the total value of U.S. imports from the country last year.
Republican leaders have raised questions about Trump's trade policy, given that higher tariffs would increase prices for domestic consumers and expose American farmers and manufacturers to retaliation in China and other parts of the world.
"Although I have supported the administration's targeted efforts to combat China's technology transfer regime, tonight's announcement appears reckless and is not a targeted approach," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said Tuesday, in reference to the administration's latest action against Beijing.
"We cannot turn a blind eye to China's mercantilist trade practices, but this action falls short of a strategy that will give the administration negotiating leverage with China while maintaining the long-term health and prosperity of the American economy," Hatch said in a statement.
In Beijing, Hua told reporters on Wednesday, "China does not want a trade war," adding, "The international community should work together to stand against unilateralism and protectionism to uphold international trade and rules. This is our duty and responsibility."