The president said the new tariffs would affect $200 billion dollars in goods. A counter punch was swift in coming, with a statement from Beijing on Friday night that it would "strike back forcefully".
"If the USA becomes irrational and issues this list, China will have no choice but to adopt strong countermeasures of the same amount and quality", the ministry statement said.
It gave no details.
President Donald Trump is calling for tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports, drawing a rebuke from China.
The Director of White House National Trade Council, Peter Navarro, told reporters Tuesday the White House has given China every opportunity to change its "aggressive behavior". The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 futures are also pointing lower before the opening bell.
The Trump administration has hit Chinese smartphone maker ZTE hard with tariffs recently for violating sanction imposed on Iran and North Korea.
"My sense is they can probably skip most of the tariffs", said Dan Hutcheson, CEO of VLSI Research Inc. A trade war could throw a wrench in the works. -Chinese trade means Beijing doesn't import enough American goods to match Trump's latest threat.
Haibin Zhu, chief China economist at JPMorgan, estimates that USA tariffs on Chinese exports could slice between 0.1 and 0.5 percentage points off Chinese economic growth, depending on the scale and intensity of the tariffs. That would leave about $120 billion of imports available for retaliatory tariffs after Saturday's announcement.
Chinese regulators also have the option of broadening their retaliation by tying up American companies in tax or anti-monopoly investigations or by denying or revoking licenses.
In U.S. treasuries, U.S. 10-year and 30-year yields fell to three-week lows on the news, while those on two-year notes slid to two-week troughs.
Away from Mr Trump's dispute with China, Russia said it would impose tariffs on certain American goods in response to the recent tariffs placed on steel and aluminium imports by the US.
Economists warn Washington might be undercutting its negotiating position by alienating potential allies. The tech and energy were down more than 1 percent.
The footwear industry is sending a powerful message after President Donald Trump suggested that Canadians are illegally transporting shoes purchased in the United States across the border into Canada to avoid tariffs.
Energy would be added for the first time to a growing trade dispute that has hit imports of Chinese metals and solar panels, and exports of United States medical equipment and soybeans.
"It is important to note here that the actions President Trump has taken are purely defensive in nature".
The New York Times reported that Mr Trump told Apple that the U.S. would not place tariffs on iPhones, although Mr Peter Navarro, the president's top trade adviser, said he was unaware of any such exemption.
Europe, Japan and other trading partners raise similar complaints, but Trump has been unusually direct about challenging Beijing and threatening to disrupt such a large volume of exports.
"Beijing will not panic in response to Trump's latest threat, but will be deeply concerned", said Eurasia Group in a report.