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They kicked in just after midnight ET, which is noon in Beijing.

With only $130 billion in USA imports to retaliate against, Beijing has said it will take "qualitative" and "quantitative" measures against the United States, triggering fears it could cripple the operations of U.S. multinationals in China.

Beijing insists it's the injured party.

"China promised that it would not fire first, but it has been forced to take necessary measures to defend the core interests of the country and its people", the statement said.

Trump has warned that the United States may ultimately target over $500 billion worth of Chinese goods, or roughly the total amount that the United States imported from China past year, according to Reuters.

The impact will become unbearable if the trade war that formally began on Friday lingers and spreads among other countries, they warn.

The fight could also affect other parts of China-US relations. "Soybean demand is there, and it's really, really big as soybeans go into different channels".

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US' trade war with China officially began on Friday as the Trump administration imposed tariffs of United States dollars 34 billion on Chinese imports, escalating a fight that could hurt companies and consumers in both the countries. If global trade tensions continue to simmer, however, it may not be too long before countries resort to other destructive measures such as devaluing their currencies to support domestic exporters.

The import duties came into effect at 12:01 Beijing time (07:01 MSK).

The American tariffs are the result of President Donald Trump's bid to protect United States jobs and stop "unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China".

"Thirty-four, and then you have another 16 in two weeks and then, as you know, we have 200 billion in abeyance and then after the 200 billion, we have 300 billion in abeyance. OK?" "So we have 50 plus 200 plus nearly 300", Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Friday saw the Trump administration slap tariffs on a wide range of Chinese imports valued collectively at around $US34b a year.

The U.S. pork industry a year ago sent $1.1 billion worth of product to China, making it the third largest export market after Japan and Mexico.

China's tariff list is heavy on agricultural goods such as soybeans, sorghum and cotton, threatening USA farmers in states that backed Trump in the 2016 U.S. election, such as Texas and Iowa. Now that they have gone into effect, the same view is being taken of across-the-board tariffs on autos or of steeper tariffs on Chinese products.

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Trump has also called the state of trade between the U.S. and the EU "unfair", as official data shows a large trade surplus for the Europeans.

While the USA tariffs aim to cut down the trade deficit, there are worries about how China's retaliatory tariffs will hit the United States economy. Trump has threatened to hit back with vehicle tariffs of 20%, which would be highly damaging for the German auto industry.

Beijing is also taking a hard-line stance, vowing never to surrender to Washington as far as the trade issue is concerned.

This marks the official beginning of what China dubs as "the biggest trade war in economic history".

The US decision to pursue a trade war has eroded the confidence of importers, and could cause a mess in the global supply chain, said Li Yong from China Association of International Trade. "It's not clear to anybody, I don't think, what the end game is here, what President Trump hopes to accomplish".

What does it mean for the world economy?

"Trade wars are bad and not easy to win", he said via Twitter.

"If we lose that, my son will spend the rest of his lifetime trying to get that back", he said. For example, the USA government wants China to rein in government subsidies for policies like "Made in China 2025", which seeks to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into industries such as robotics, electric cars and computer chips with the aim of becoming a global leader.

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