The measures were specifically in response to U.S. steel and aluminium tariffs, which were taking effect Friday.
The levies, which go into effect on Friday, will largely hit China. And that raised questions about whether his actions will match his rhetoric.
Countries affected by the measures, like China, can under WTO rules retaliate with tariffs on USA goods worth a sum equivalent to the trading loss they would suffer from the US tariffs.
"It's remarkable how badly Xi Jinping has mishandled and damaged the U.S".
At home, investors on Wall Street showed their rising concern about retaliation and business-stifling cost increases for companies and consumers.
"The Chinese openly say they want to dominate all the high-tech sectors in the world", said former Trump transition team member, Dr. Michael Pillsbury. It said USTR would pursue a World Trade Organization case against Beijing's "discriminatory technology licensing". Trump said that the amount could be even bigger, at "about $60 billion". "China hopes the United States will pull back from the brink, make prudent decisions, and avoid dragging bilateral trade relations to a unsafe place".
Shortly after Trump's announcement, China released its own policy statement targeting $3 billion worth of USA exports. The proposed product list will include items in aerospace, information and communication technology and machinery. But further details were scant.
Wei Jianguo, vice chairman of Beijing-based think tank China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, told China Daily that Beijing could impose tariffs on more USA products, and is considering a second and even third list of targets.
President Trump signs a presidential memorandum imposing tariffs and investment restrictions on China.
Trump's actions fulfil his campaign pledge to demand fairer trade deals with countries and to retaliate against trading partners if the USA does not secure better agreements. "And if it's taken to an extreme, it will reverse that progress".
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, Republican chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, suggested lawmakers may need to consider what he called a "Trump Tariff Payment" to compensate farmers if their crops face retaliation.
It also will create space for potential negotiations for Beijing to address Trump's allegations on intellectual property and delay the start of immediate retaliation against USA products from aircraft to soybeans. China doesn't want to get into a chest thumping competition; it wants to continue to persuade Americans to buy Chinese goods. Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
"The actions undertaken by the United States are self-defeating", said the statement, warning that they will directly harm the interests of USA consumers, companies, and financial markets.
"We are competing, and winning, with our exports to China growing nicely from zero to about 2.5 million boxes per year", said Jim Bair, CEO of the U.S. Apple Association, a trade group.
"China has been trying to cool things down for weeks".
The government also criticized the use of the national security rationale and said it destabilizes global order. "I fear they will take a hard line now that their efforts have been rebuffed".
A U.S. Navy destroyer also carried out a "freedom of navigation" operation on Friday, coming within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, U.S. officials told Reuters, a move likely to further anger Beijing.
The measures are to "balance out the loss sustained by China" through Washington's move to impose steel and aluminium tariffs on imports, the ministry continued.
"People like me have been warning about China's unfair trade practices and their rivalry with us, but we've been kind of demonized over the last 20 years", said Pillsbury. "I really do", said Dave Struthers, who raises pigs, corn, soybeans and hay on a 1,100-acre family farm 30 miles northeast of Des Moines.
The added factor of the successive departures of Trump's chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is causing investors to consider whether there has been a definitive turn in the US administration's priorities.
The announcement of broader tariffs directed specifically at China sent equities tumbling.
The U.S. argues it needs a strong steel and aluminum industry to reinforce domestic production of warships, fighter planes and other national defense requirements. When the goods are shipped back to the United States, they are considered imports in the trade balance. Once the World Trade Organization began moderating global trade in 1995, use of Section 301 virtually disappeared. "So President Trump is blowing the whistle on what may be called Chinese economic aggression". But America's longstanding complaints continued to simmer.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said recently there would be no forced technology transfers.