But when officials did respond, they did not mince words.
But if China did try to match the president's latest threats for as much as $150bn in tariffs on Chinese goods, it would need to cover more than the total value of United States exports to the country.
"We Chinese won't pick fights, but if someone picks a fight, we'll resolutely meet them head on", Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng said at a press conference late on Friday in Beijing. We can not treat this like a schoolyard fight. "Continuous interaction between the domestic and overseas markets has always been a very important precondition for the success of Chinese technology companies". He said the Chinese "are going to have to make concessions - period".
In other words, Beijing's message is that it will respond when and how it pleases, that it is not scared by Trump.
United States President Donald Trump on Friday ordered his administration to consider tariffs on an additional Dollars 100 billion in Chinese imports, further escalating the trade tiff between the two countries. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was flat at 5,788.70, but Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.1 percent to 29,844.94 after trading resumed following a holiday as investors caught up with the previous day's global gains.
Around midday, Asia time, China's Commerce Ministry published a terse statement.
So far, US information technology products from mobile phones to personal computers have largely escaped the ire of Beijing, as well as telecoms equipment and aircraft larger than the equivalent of a Boeing 737.
Lighthizer has said he is determined to "rebalance" NAFTA trade to restore lost US manufacturing jobs. We don't want a trade war, but we are not afraid of such a war.
But China faces a problem: it ships far more goods to the United States ($505 billion last year) than come back in the opposite direction ($130 billion).
China increases tariffs by up to 25% on 128 U.S. products, from frozen pork and wine to certain fruits and nuts, escalating the dispute in response to United States duties on imports of aluminum and steel.
Trump says China's trade practices have caused American factories to close and lead to the loss of American jobs.
The latest escalation comes after the USA on Tuesday said it would impose 25 per cent duties on $50 billion of imports from China, and China quickly retaliated by listing $50 billion United States of products that it could hit with its own 25 per cent tariffs. "Supply-side issues amid a backdrop of falling inventories should override any concern over weaker economic growth". Both sides are puffing up their chests, but both sides know they have much to lose.
"A (full-blown) trade war meanwhile would have a more pronounced effect".
A tariff, in plain terms, is a tax on goods coming into a country. "Blame China, not Trump". In a Twitter message on Wednesday, he had said: "That war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S".
Chinese President Xi Jinping does not need to worry about upcoming elections. Large numbers of Chinese citizens work in assembly plants for Apple products or in Starbucks stores across the country. And there's talk that the USA could also put limits on visas for Chinese who want to visit or study in this country.
"China's policy makers will take a cool-headed approach", Hu said.
Dow futures fell after Trump's announcement on Thursday and were down almost 200 points, or 0.8%, early Friday. "He's threatening to light American agriculture on fire". "But if he's even half-serious, this is nuts".
-Lin Zhu contributed to this article.