Trade war fears had receded after the Trump administration said it had reached a deal to put ZTE Corp back in business after banning China's second-biggest telecoms equipment maker from buying USA technology parts for seven years.
Having already undermined U.S. national security interests by agreeing to China's precondition to trade talks by easing penalties on ZTE, the administration now appears to be saving face by rattling its saber with new deadlines on investment restrictions and tariffs on China, said Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, who has previously praised Trump's tariffs plan, urged the president to be "strong, tough and consistent" in addressing China's trade policies.
Now Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, is planning to return to Beijing on Saturday for another round of talks in the ongoing trade and intellectual property dispute.
China later retaliated by levying tariffs against USA exports.
Chinese leaders are in the midst of a marathon effort to nurture self-sustaining economic growth based on consumer spending instead of trade and investment.
"This is really about Congress", said Derek Scissors, a China specialist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
China must address its failure to protect USA intellectual property, but these tariffs are not an effective response because it will harm American jobs and consumers, said Erik Paulsen, Joint Economic Committee Chairman Congressman.
The Chinese government on Wednesday lashed out at Washington's unexpected statement on pressing ahead with tariffs and restrictions on investments by Chinese companies, saying it was ready to fight back if Washington was looking to ignite a trade war.
In mid-May, China had agreed to increase purchases of US agricultural and energy products and last week, the US Commerce Department told lawmakers it had struck a deal to put Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE back in business.
Chinese government documents revealing the trademarks were first publicised by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Recent talks between US and Chinese trade officials in Beijing and Washington seemed to produce a tenuous truce, but that has apparently fizzled. "Moving forward with tariffs on goods imported from China will harm US consumers and businesses, and will fail to change China's discriminatory and damaging trade practices". "From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and to be reciprocal", said President Trump.
But the White House said on Tuesday that a final list of imports slated for tariffs will be published by 15 June.
The White House said Tuesday, May 29, 2018, that the tariff will cover goods related to the "Made in China 2025" program.
The latest threat to impose restrictions come ahead of Trade Representative Rob Lighthizer's trip to China for negotiations on the relationship between Beijing and Washington, which is planned for this weekend. If the fight is truly about intellectual property theft, the United States could likely recruit some of its allies to help apply pressure.