Some major Chinese ports have delayed clearing goods from the United States, four sources said on Friday, potentially disrupting imports of key products such as pork and soybeans as the world's top two economies head towards a trade war.
"What we can expect is disruption in supply chains".
China's commerce ministry called the U.S. actions "a violation of world trade rules" and said that it had "initiated the largest-scale trade war in economic history".
"The United States violated the [World Trade Organization] rules and launched the largest trade war in economic history to date", the Commerce Ministry said. "And the impact on USA business, in my estimation, will be substantial".
Forecasters say global economic growth could be reduced by up to 0.5 percentage points in 2019-20 if both sides wind up raising tariffs on $250 billion of imports.
The US will levy a 25-per cent tariff on more than 800 Chinese product categories worth around $34 billion and has warned of more to come if a trade war escalates.
Lu Kang, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, confirmed to news agency AFP that his government's retaliatory tariffs were already in effect.
A Global Times commentary suggested the USA was futilely trying to contain China's progress, stating, "If the U.S. is determined to escalate conflicts with China, then so be it".
"For soybean producers like me this is a direct financial hit", Brent Bible, a soy and corn producer in Romney, Indiana, said in a statement from the advocacy group Farmers for Free Trade.
Friday's development comes as Europe, Mexico and Canada - some of America's closest allies -- are engaged in their own trade battles with the U.S. -China economic relationship had grown "no longer sustainable".
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Chinese buying of soybeans has already ground almost to a halt ahead of the duties. China's tariffs on major United States exports like soybeans, sorghum, and autos, target Republican areas ahead of USA midterm elections.
Foreign companies accounted for $20 billion, or 59%t, of the $34 billion of exports from China that would be subject to new USA tariffs, with US firms accounting for a significant part of that 59 percent, Gao said.
Beijing has said it will retaliate in equal measure.
However, she said, "trade tensions are likely to get worse before it gets better".
But China also believes that its economy, with a greater focus on domestic demand and a reduced dependence on exports, can ride out the storm.
"China is a big market for us".
Both Chinese and US business sources in China said there appeared to be little hope that the tariffs could be averted.
It has increased sharply since 2001 when China joined the World Trade Organization and started to significantly improve its economic position and relations worldwide.
While Trump touts announcements of jobs created in steel plants due to the tariffs, manufacturing industries warn many more jobs will be lost in companies producing autos, auto parts, appliances and other goods that depend on imported components.
U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to raise duties on up to $450 billion of imports from China.
A senior Western diplomat told Reuters that there was no sign of any talks at the moment between the two countries, even via back channels.
And they say the current United States economic strength, as well as America's soaring trade deficit in goods, means the world's largest economy can outlast its rivals in the current tit-for-tat battle, presenting Washington with a rare window of opportunity to settle old scores.