With tariffs going into effect on a total of $50 billion in Chinese goods - $34 billion that started July 6 and another $16 billion beginning August 23 - the US will be taxing about 10% of the products that come into the country from China.
"[The] trade data don't show any significant impact from the first round of U.S. tariffs", Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, said in a note to investors.
The move marks the latest escalation of a trade war between the world's two largest economies.
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American imports far more from China than the other way around, meaning Beijing may at some point need to look for other means of retaliation.
The office of USA trade representative Robert Lighthizer said its "exhaustive" investigation showed "China's acts, policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation are unreasonable and discriminatory and burden U.S. commerce".
Trump has boasted that trade wars are "easy to win" and warned he would hit virtually all Chinese imports if Beijing does not back down and take steps to reduce its $335 billion surplus with the US.
Explaining the decision, the USTR cited an "exhaustive" investigation that found China using joint venture requirements, investment restrictions and licensing procedures to pressure United States companies into technology transfers.
Washington and Beijing are locked in battle over American accusations that China's export economy benefits from unfair policies and subsidies, and especially from the theft of American technological know-how.