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President Trump escalated his trade war with China Tuesday, identifying an additional $200 billion in Chinese products that he intends to hit with import tariffs.

The Commerce Ministry on Wednesday gave no details, but Beijing responded to last week's USA tariff hike on $34 billion of imports from China by increasing its own duties on the same amount of American goods.

The additional USA tariffs, which will go through a two-month approval process including a public hearing, come after China retaliated in a tit-for-tat trade skirmish last week.

"For over a year, the Trump Administration has patiently urged China to stop its unfair practices, open its market, and engage in true market competition", Lighthizer said.

Calling Washington's behavior irrational, Beijing warned that the USA is, in the first instance, hurting itself with protectionist measures and constant attacks on free trade.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, responded to Lighthizer's announcement with dismay.

Chinese tactics, the administration said, include outright cybertheft and forcing US companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market.

A senior administration official told Fox News that China has been "non-responsive" to US actions and has insisted that Beijing does not see any way America has been hurt by Chinese policies.

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"Tariffs on $US200 billion in Chinese products amounts to another multibillion-dollar tax on American businesses and families", said Scott Lincicome, a trade lawyer and senior policy analyst for the group Republicans Fighting Tariffs.

China accused President Trump last week of starting "the biggest trade war in economic history" with his administration's original round of tariffs.

The news could "bring some negative emotion to financial markets in the short term, but over the long run, fundamentals of Chinese financial markets have not changed, and (investors) shouldn't over-value its impact", Guan Tao, former director of the global payments department at China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) was quoted as saying by the state-owned Xinhua news agency.

The Trump administration has tried to limit the impact of the trade war on consumers and any backlash that it might prompt, but the scale of these tariffs make it next to impossible to protect them.

China's government has criticized the latest United States threat of a tariff hike as "totally unacceptable" and vowed to retaliate in their escalating trade war.

Australia's dollar, often seen as a proxy for China's economic fortunes due to Australian raw materials exported there, was 1.09 percent lower.

He said his office "will proceed with a transparent and comprehensive public notice and comment process prior to the imposition of final tariffs, as we have for previous tariffs". Regulators can deny or cancel licenses or launch lengthy tax, environmental or anti-monopoly investigations.

"The behaviour of the USA is hurting China, hurting the world, and hurting itself", a spokesperson for China's commerce ministry said in a statement.

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