Chinese state media accused the Trump administration of 'behaving like a gang of hoodlums'
China has sharply criticised the US as it imposed retaliatory tariffs on $34bn worth of US imports.
The US has formally imposed 25% tariffs on a range of Chinese products - including machinery, electronics and cars - in what is being seen as the catalyst in a trade war between the two nations.
China swiftly hit back by imposing its own tariffs on US imports such as agricultural products and vehicles.
China's ministry of commerce said it had 'vowed not to fire the first shot' in the trade dispute - but was 'forced to stage counter-attacks'.
In a stinging editorial, the state-run China Daily newspaper accused the Trump administration of 'behaving like a gang of hoodlums' by shaking down other countries.
The editors stated: "Its unruliness looks set to have a profoundly damaging impact on the global economic landscape in the coming decades, unless countries stand together to oppose it.
"There should be no doubting Beijing's resolve: it will not give in to blackmail and will not falter from its staunch defense of free trade and the multilateral trading system."
The Xinhua news agency, meanwhile, described the US action as launching the 'largest trade war in economic history'.
The US is set to impose another $16bn in tariffs on Chinese goods in two weeks.
President Trump has already asked officials to identify $200bn worth of additional Chinese goods for potential tariffs.
The US President last month warned: "These tariffs will go into effect if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced."
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, meanwhile, warned that the latest developments are 'clearly damaging for the world economy'.
Worrying development with escalation of tariffs between US and China. Clearly damaging for the world economy. Trade wars are bad and not easy to win.— Cecilia Malmström (@MalmstromEU) July 6, 2018