Yet there's still time to pull back from the brink.
However, there was no evidence yet of an organized campaign to stoke anti-U.S. behavior, or that consumers were yet shunning US goods in any numbers. The S&P 500 has fallen more than 4 percent since March 1, the day President Donald Trump said he meant to place tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. "Threats to the U.S". It's likely to get an earful from American farmers and businesses that want to avoid a trade war at all costs.
Shares in U.S. exporters of everything from planes to tractors fell after China retaliated against the Trump administration's tariff plans by proposing duties on key United States imports, including soybeans, planes, cars, beef and chemicals.
Last year, the United States ran a $375bn trade deficit with China, which Trump wants to see reduced by $100bn.
"At this point it's all theater and posturing", he said of the threatened tariffs on both sides.
The real upshot for carmakers in the U.S. is that companies may think twice about any future imports from China.
"I think the market is beginning to understand and remember that Trump's bark is much bigger than his bite", says Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA, a Wall Street research firm.
The Dow Jones industrial average, which was down 510 points at its low, finished the day up 230.94 points, or almost 1%, at 24,264.
Trump follows through on the tariffs recommended by his commerce department, taxing steel imports at 25% and imported aluminum at 10%.
According to the U.S. Trade Representative's office, the United States in 2016 shipped vehicles worth $11 billion to China.
Things could easily escalate.
Information technology products, from cellphones to personal computers, have largely escaped the latest salvo of U.S.
Meyers also told The Hill that the firm has seen a large increase in activity targeting USA law firms since June 2017.
Many products in those segments appear on the list, including antibiotics and industrial robots and aircraft parts.
Stocks have rallied back from an early jolt Wednesday, as investors weighed whether back-and-forth tariff threats between the USA and China could escalate into full-fledged trade hostilities or if the two sides could eventually settle their differences.
Chinese espionage activity is posing a challenge for the Trump administration as it seeks to crack down on China for allegedly unfair trade practices, including persistent cyber intrusions targeting US businesses. It eventually gave in to US demands.
"You can see consumers saying we're not going to buy a Ford, or a GM product, and we're going to buy a European product or a Chinese product instead", he said. Some analysts downplayed the back-and-forth as negotiating tactics. "They weren't going to unduly harm the consumer".
Making matters trickier, the dispute over Chinese technology policy strikes at the heart of Beijing's ambitions to become the global leader in cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence and quantum computing.
"U.S. companies at this point would like to see robust communication between the USA government and the Chinese government and serious negotiation on both sides, hopefully to avoid a trade war", said the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, William Zarit. The tariffs proposed Tuesday were the result of that investigation.
The Trump administration is coming under intense pressure to de-escalate the dispute. He said Wednesday that he supports Trump's decision.
Chinese hackers continue to steal information from USA defense contractors, likely to gain a strategic edge over the US military. Max Baucus, co-chair of Farmers for Free Trade. "Taking into account transit trade and service trade, the real gap is only a third of the figure released by the USA government".
The 106 products on China's list include aircraft and automobiles as well as soybeans and chemicals.
Trump's administration unveiled 58 pages "of about $50 billion in Chinese electronics, aerospace and machinery products it plans to hit with steep tariffs". "It is likely that China will, in the end, cut its losses and be willing to give Trump something".
"I think that if they see the US potentially slapping trade restrictions on China, then they're going to see that as probably opening up the flood gates again", said Meyers.