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On a call with reporters, Peter Navarro, a White House trade adviser on Tuesday said, "China has more to lose going forward".

China responded with a 178.6 percent tariff on all imports of sorghum to the United States. "This is unacceptable. Further action must be taken to encourage China to change its unfair practices, open its market to United States goods, and accept a more balanced trade relationship with the United States".

Baker says that if China were really determined to strike back at the United States, it would employ what he describes as the "nuclear option" of totally disregarding American companies' intellectual property rights.

Fears of a trade war that could harm global growth spurred sales of the Chinese yuan, which fell to a five-month trough in the offshore market, as well as commodity-linked and emerging market currencies.

The Dow Jones industrials are down 318 points, or 1.3 percent, to 24,668. It was followed by construction equipment maker Caterpillar, which dropped 2.8 percent.

"If China increases its tariffs yet again, we will meet that action by pursuing additional tariffs on another $200bn of goods".

"Such practice of imposing extreme pressure and blackmailing is contrary to the consensus the two sides have reached through rounds of consultations, and disappoints the global community", a Ministry of Commerce spokesperson said.

"If the USA side becomes irrational and issues the list, China will have to adopt comprehensive measures in quantity and quality in order to make strong countermeasures", said the statement.

On Monday (Tuesday NZ time) US President Trump threatened tariffs on almost all of China's products shipped to the United States unless Beijing agrees to sweeping trade concessions. But the lopsided status of U.S.

"I have to point out that U.S. remarks confused right with wrong and made irresponsible accusations against China to cover up its unilateral and protectionist moves", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said when asked to comment on Pompeo's statement.

The initial US tariffs are aimed at items such as semiconductors, electronics, plastics and other goods from sectors expected to benefit from China's "Made in 2025" initiative to dominate the world in technology areas such as robotics, driverless cars and advanced medical devices. The world's third largest smartphone manufacturer, Huawei has longed for its phones to be featured on the shelves of major USA carriers.

"The Trump administration appears to think it can strong-arm China in making concessions by scaling up the amount of trade it imposes tariffs on", Kuijs wrote.

Tariffs are already raising costs for some goods.

"All they can do is impose higher tariffs on a smaller subset of products", he said.

Last week, Mr Trump confirmed that the U.S. would impose 25% tariffs on $50bn worth of Chinese goods.

Some of those tariffs will be applied from July 6, while the White House is expected to announce restrictions on investment by Chinese companies in the United States by June 30.

US stocks may be getting slammed by the latest trade tensions, but equities in China are faring far worse.

"I understand where President Trump's coming from", he said.

"The biggest thing hanging over markets is trade and the back and forth between the US and China", said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance in Charlotte, North Carolina. Donald Trump is now threatening to slap tariffs on $450 billion worth. "They need soybeans. China needs soybeans, and they have to buy some US soybeans because there's not enough soybeans in the world without it".