"I've been speaking with the highest Chinese representatives, including the president, and I've asked them to reduce the trade deficit immediately by 100-billion dollars", said Trump.
Before the tariffs become final, there will be a 30-day comment period, the White House said. The waiting periods will give industry lobbyists and U.S. lawmakers a chance to water down a proposed target list that runs to 1,300 products, many in technology sectors. The memorandum signed Thursday by Trump directs the Treasury Department to provide a detailed proposal to this end within 60 days. "I view them as a friend" Trump said of the Chinese as he started his announcement.
The Trump administration is expected to announce trade sanctions on China later Thursday, while the government in Beijing said it will defend itself.
But Washington accuses Beijing of a host of unfair trade practices, including the "theft" U.S. technology.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 724 points, or 2.9 percent, to close at 23,958, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq index slid 2.5 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.
China's Ministry of Commerce said on Friday it opposed USA unilateralism and protectionism after Washington unveiled plans for tariffs on up to $60 billion in Chinese goods following an intellectual property probe. The WTO has repeatedly drawn the ire of the administration but it could provide a resolution that avoids a trade war. "China relationship", tweeted Ely Ratner, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who served as deputy national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.More news: What to expect at Apple's education event
"That the U.S.is willing to risk these disruptions indicates how serious the U.S. Administration finds China's forced technology transfer, cyber theft, and discriminatory industrial policies", AmCham China Chairman William Zarit said in a statement.
USA officials say they will try to minimize the impact for American shoppers by mostly targeting products that business buys like computers, IT products, industrial machinery and aircraft parts. They said the figure was based on a calculation of the impact on the profits of US companies that had been forced to hand over intellectual property as the price of doing business in China.
In 2017, USA exports of goods and services to China jumped to $186.8 billion, up 9.8 percent from 2016, and imports from China were $524.0 billion, up 9.3 percent. The president also directed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to propose new investment restrictions on Chinese companies within 60 days to safeguard technologies the US views as strategic.
In his words, Trump will also instruct the finance ministry to propose measures to curb Chinese investment in the United States.
Global investors have been spooked by Donald Trump's confirmation of tariffs of up to $60bn on imports from China. Washington accuses China of flooding global markets with unfairly low-cost steel and other goods and stealing or pressuring foreign companies to hand over technology. US Trade Representative Lighthizer warned on Wednesday that Washington would take "counter measures" if Beijing targeted US agriculture.
The pledge on reform and equal treatment came from Vice Premier Han Zheng, at a time there are increasing prospects of a trade war with the United States.