China said Friday it was "forced to take necessary countermeasures," after Washington launched what Beijing called "the largest trade war in economic history," imposing tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese imports.
"China promised not to fire the first shot, but in order to defend the core interests of the country and the interests of the people, we are forced to take the necessary countermeasures," China's commerce ministry said in a statement.
The statement did not specify what those countermeasures would entail beyond taking the case to the World Trade Organization, though the ministry had previously said it would hit back with new border taxes on an equal amount of US goods.
China accused the US of launching the "largest trade war in economic history," saying it was "typical trade bullying" that could trigger "global market turmoil".
Besides going to the WTO, China also said it would work with other countries to promote free trade, as Trump engages in battles with historical trading partners around the world.
But despite the rhetoric, Friday's tariffs could be the opening skirmishes in the war, as Trump has vowed to impose duties on as much as $450 billion in Chinese goods, the vast majority of imports.