US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said China's retaliatory tariffs were "without any global legal basis or justification".
The move has been swiftly and heavily criticised by China, which said it was "totally unacceptable" for America to keep escalating the trade dispute.
U-S Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says tariffs of 10 percent could be imposed as soon as September in response to Beijing's retaliatory measures against earlier U-S tariffs.
China imported US goods worth $130 billion past year and Friday's tariff hike hit $34 billion of that, with another $16 billion cited for a possible increase.
High-level talks between the two countries starting in May had failed to deliver a breakthrough to head off a trade war.More news: China vows retaliatory tariffs on US as trade war escalates
China imported USA goods worth $130 billion previous year and Friday's tariff hike hit $34 billion of that, with another $16 billion cited for a possible increase. It's an extensive list of over 6,000 goods that include seafood, propane and toilet paper, among many other things.
"Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against United States products", Lighthizer said in a statement.
"Given China's likelihood of retaliation, it's also billions worth of new tariffs on American exporters".
But China also faces difficulties in retaliating directly: it ships far more goods to the United States ($506 billion a year ago, according to U.S. figures) than come back in the opposite direction ($130 billion).
The US complains that China uses predatory practices in a push to challenge American technological dominance.
The list is subject to a two-month public comment period before taking effect.More news: Cardi B welcomes baby girl Kulture Kiari with Offset
The Chinese Commerce Ministry said Tuesday that it would be forced to retaliate against what it called "totally unacceptable" US tariffs.
Li Chenggang, an assistant minister at the Commerce Ministry, had earlier told reporters that the USA is escalating the trade war, which is an irresponsible move.
As a leading grain trader in these regions, COFCO can help to meet domestic demand, Yu said. "China has a million and one ways to retaliate". "China has not changed its behaviour - behaviour that puts the future of the USA economy at risk".
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, responded to Lighthizer's announcement with dismay.More news: Rafa Benitez gives his verdict on England's World Cup hopes