In all, Trump planned to implement tariffs on about 1,100 goods (worth $50 billion a year). They kicked in just after midnight ET, which is noon in Beijing.
Beijing insists it's the injured party.
China warned that while it has promised not to "fire the first shot", it would now be forced to "counterattack" in order to defend its core interests. "That's impossible. China won't accept that", he said, adding "what happens next depends on the United States".
Beijing has carefully choreographed its response but is now preparing for a full-blown "conflict" on the economic front after a leaked document "purportedly sent to media outlets" was published by China Digital Times and reported by Asia Times.
The dispute reflects foreign frustration with China's state-led industrial development strategy, which Washington, Europe, Japan and other trading partners say hurt their companies and violate its market-opening commitments. Importers pay the applicable charges at the point of entry to the customs agency of the country or economic bloc imposing them.
He also upped his threat to go further - saying he'd target up to US$500 billion of Chinese goods if they retaliate.
On Thursday, Trump said higher tariffs on an additional $16 billion in Chinese goods were set to take effect in two weeks. "So we have 50 plus 200 plus nearly 300", he said.
One study said as many as 400,000 jobs could be lost.
It's also bigger than the $506 billion of goods that the United States imported from China a year ago.
"Historically whether it's a trade war or a physical war, people go into it thinking it's going to be short-lived", said Cohen, "China wants to have an innovative economy".
Those caught in the initial line of fire - USA farmers facing tariffs on their exports to China, for example - are already hunkered down and fearing the worst.
The White House had previously said it would consult on tariffs on another $16bn of products, which Mr Trump has suggested could come into effect later this month.
The Trump administration has also applied tariffs on steel and aluminum from allies like Canada and Mexico and has threatened to abandon the North American Free Trade Agreement with those two countries.
The price of US soybeans has plunged 17 percent over the past month on fears that Chinese tariffs will cut off American farmers from a market that buys about 60 percent of their soybean exports.
I view these tariffs as a negotiating ploy by President Trump to try to force the Chinese to open up their market better for American companies.
The higher USA tariffs went into effect just after noon in Beijing (0401 GMT).
"While our 900 member companies continue to suffer from not having a level playing field in China, they are still extremely clear: Increased tensions in the U.S".
While the Chinese government did not immediately announce reciprocal tariffs on U.S. imports, there are reports that China's General Administration of Customs is delaying clearing United States imports at major Chinese ports.
But reaching a deal that's palatable to both sides will be tough. He has also expressed growing concern about intellectual property rights in high-tech industries, centered around the "Made in China 2025" policy, which aims to turn the country into a technological superpower.
The dispute has roiled financial markets including stocks, currencies and the global trade of commodities from soybeans to coal in recent weeks.
The official China Daily newspaper accused the Trump administration of "behaving like a gang of hoodlums".
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