The fact that America imports more from China will make it harder for Beijing to match Trump's attacks, according to Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington who focuses on China.
The escalating conflict between the world's two largest economies has rattled markets and companies, which fear disruption to their global supply chains.
China's Commerce Ministry assailed Trump's latest threat, saying it was an "act of extreme pressure and blackmail that deviates from the consensus reached by both parties after many negotiations, and is a disappointment to the global community".
"The initial tariffs that the president asked us to put in place were proportionate and responsive to forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft by the Chinese", Lighthizer said.
China announced tariffs on $34 billion of United States goods in retaliation against the US's barriers on $50 billion of Chinese goods. "They need soybeans. China needs soybeans, and they have to buy some US soybeans because there's not enough soybeans in the world without it".
"Trade between our nations, however, has been very unfair, for a very long time".
The first tranche of the USA duties on goods totaling $34 billion will go into effect July 6, with the remaining $16 billion imposed at a later date.
The China trade offensive is only one side of Trump's multi-front battle with all major United States economic partners.More news: Poland vs Senegal: Teranga Lions lift African spirits
More news: Kim sends note of thanks and flowers to President Xi
More news: Elon Musk Claims Employee Sabotage at Tesla in Midnight Memo
"As I've said from the beginning, China will back off its industrial plans only when USA trade measures are large and lasting enough to threaten the influx of foreign exchange".
In a statement he said: "This latest action by China clearly indicates its determination to keep the United States at a permanent and unfair disadvantage, which is reflected in our massive $376bn trade imbalance in goods".
China will fight back firmly with "qualitative" and "quantitative" measures if the United States publishes an additional list of tariffs on Chinese goods, the commerce ministry said, accusing the USA of initiating a trade war.
China accused the United States on Tuesday of "extreme pressure and blackmailing" and vowed to retaliate after U.S. Trump threatened to impose a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods in addition to $50 billion of import duties that had already been announced.
China's Government denounced Mr Trump's threat and warned it would respond with "strong countermeasures".
The U.S. blocked ZTE's access to U.S. suppliers in April, saying the company violated a 2017 sanctions settlement related to trading with Iran and North Korea and then lied about the violations. Trump's June 15 tariffs came in response to a months-long investigation that documented trade practices from forcing US companies to share trade secrets to subsiding domestic industries which have been widely condemned as unfair.
In U.S. treasuries, U.S. 10-year and 30-year yields fell to three-week lows on the news, while those on two-year notes slid to two-week troughs.
By Beijing's own calculations, the value of U.S. product imports past year was US$154 billion. That means things like tourism and education, industries from which the United States benefits a lot more than China does.