China accused the United States of firing the first shot on Friday when the White House confirmed that it would impose tariffs of 25% on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.
The announcement confirms a threat first made by President Donald Trump in March and follows months of trade talks between the two sides. A truce was announced in May but it proved short-lived.
“The United States has kept changing its mind and now launched a trade war,” China’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement.
The Chinese government said it would respond in kind to the US tariffs, which will apply to roughly 1,100 exports and will target China’s aerospace, robotics, manufacturing and auto industries.
“China does not want a trade war,” it said, adding that it would “fight back vigorously” in defense of its national interests, globalization and the world trade system.
Beijing also said “all economic and trade agreements reached by previous negotiations will be nullified at the same time.” That includes a tentative deal to increase Chinese purchases of US energy and agricultural goods.
The Commerce Ministry statement gave no further details of the American products that would be hit. China has previously promised to respond with retaliatory tariffs on US products such as cars, planes and soybeans.
Trump has long complained about China’s huge trade surplus with the United States. In a statement Friday, he said trade with China “has been very unfair, for a very long time.”