Following his decision this week to raise that rate to 25%, and in anticipation of China's threat of retaliatory tariffs on US$60 billion worth of U.S. goods, American industry groups and lawmakers voiced their discontent.
The Trump administration tightened pressure for trade concessions from Beijing this week by proposing a higher 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.
The retaliation stands to further inflame tensions between the world's two biggest economies and echoes China's response to the previous round of tariffs, which took effect last month.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the yuan is falling partly because China is a "lousy investment", trash talking the world's second-largest economy after it threatened more retaliatory tariffs on US exports.
Trump campaigned on a promise to bring down America's massive trade deficits by renegotiating trade agreements and getting tough on countries like China that sell the USA far more than they buy from it.
Lawmakers from both parties continued to voice their opposition to Trump's tariffs, urging the administration to get back to the negotiating table.
The last time China was hit hard by growth fears, the shock waves rattled financial markets around the world, including in the U.S. In August 2015, the People's Bank of China stunned investors by lowering its target level for the yuan against the dollar, triggering a global selloff in stocks.
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Beijing said the timing of the new tariffs would depend on whether the USA follows through on its threat. The deficit in goods trade with China also rose.
"He (Pompeo) was accommodating on this as a direction, and said that he does not want current frictions to continue", said State Councilor Wang Yi, who is also China's foreign minister.
Washington has vowed to take punitive measures to stop Beijing's Made in China 2025 industrial policy supporting domestic companies developing strategic advanced technologies, including robotics and artificial intelligence.
The latest round of U.S. tariffs would range between five per cent and 25 per cent and would hit 5,027 products - a variety of agricultural goods such as beef, as well as small planes, chemical components, textiles, liquefied natural gas and condoms.
Tariffs on another $16bn worth of products are pending, the second part of tariffs on $50bn worth of imports that the U.S. announced in March.
Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on virtually all of China's exports to the United States in the tit-for-tat trade conflict.
Beijing can not match those measures dollar for dollar, as its exports far exceed imports. The country exported about $500bn in goods to the U.S. and imported about $130bn.