Xinhua news agency.
United States tariffs on $34bn (£25.7bn) of Chinese goods have come into effect.
The Commerce Ministry didn't immediately provide details as to whether and when its pledge to introduce reciprocal tariffs on USA imports would be introduced, creating an air of optimism in financial markets that the trade war may not escalate quickly.
China was set to hit back with taxes on an equal amount of US products, including soybeans, lobsters, sport-utility vehicles and whiskey.
In the latest sign that the risk of penalties is hitting trade, a vessel carrying USA coal and heading for China was diverted on Wednesday to Singapore.
The industry source said China had been unable to address the Trump administration's concerns about Chinese trade policies in at least five key area, including forced technology transfers, Chinese industrial overcapacity, government subsidies, SOE reform, and Beijing's restrictions in the cloud computing industry.
The US-China trade war has become a reality after multiple rounds of failed talks, still, gold, a classic safe-haven asset, is reporting marginal losses at the time of writing.
Should the USA non-farm payrolls and wage growth numbers, scheduled for release at 12:30 GMT, beat estimates, the yellow metal could take a beating.
Chinese stocks actually rose after the announcement, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index up almost one per cent and the Shenzhen index climbing more than one per cent.
China also has plans for a second round - but no start date - that would affect $16 billion of such U.S. goods as chemicals, coal, crude oil and medical devices.
Beijing has announced changes this year including easing limits on foreign ownership in insurance and some other fields.
The United States is set to impose tariffs on US$34 billion of Chinese imports from 0401 GMT on Friday (12:01pm Singapore time) and has warned it may ultimately target over US$500 billion worth of Chinese goods, or roughly the total amount that the United States imported from China past year.
After that, the hostilities could intensify: Trump said the U.S. is ready to target an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports - and then $300 billion more - if Beijing does not yield to United States demands and continues to retaliate.
That would bring the total of targeted Chinese goods to potentially US$550 billion - more than the US$506 billion in goods that China actually shipped to the United States a year ago.
Washington has strained relations with potential allies in its dispute with Beijing by raising import duties on steel, aluminum and autos from Europe, Canada, Mexico and Japan.
In China, the yuan had been falling for several weeks as fears mounted that Beijing might resort to currency devaluation to give its exports an edge.
"We're here because President Trump says China is stealing our intellectual property", said Cohen, "We plan on imposing tariffs equivalent to what we believe was the harm caused to us by reason of intellectual property theft".
"In effect, the Trump administration is behaving like a gang of hoodlums with its shakedown of other countries, particularly China", the state-run China Daily newspaper said in an English language editorial on Friday. Others say they are turning their focus to Chinese consumers.
"The first round's impact is not that big, but the key is whether there will be more - a second round of revenge and retaliation and a third round, " said Shi Yinhong, a professor of global relations at Renmin University in Beijing.
The American Chamber of Commerce in China appealed to both sides to negotiate a settlement.
However, she said, "trade tensions are likely to get worse before it gets better".