Tuesday's announcement from the USA came just days after the two world superpowers had announced a tentative solution.
There is room to increase exports to China by selling more agricultural commodities and energy products, and China has agreed in principle to import more, but the two sides do not have a firm agreement.
Trump has faced a backlash among lawmakers this month after announcing he would soften USA sanctions on the Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE, which neared collapse due to an April ban on purchasing crucial U.S. components.
But that was before the USA said it will unveil new potential investment restrictions in the hi-technology sector by the end of June and start imposing tariffs as early as mid-June. The White House repeated it will slap a hefty 25 per cent tariff on as much as $50bn worth of imports. The final list will be revealed by June 15, according to the statement.
"China's trade practices raise serious concerns, but job-killing tariffs aren't the answer", he said.
"I think this is a bone to the Congress".
China's Commerce Ministry says it's surprised and sees it as contrary to the recent consensus both sides reached on resolving their trade row. "However, we continue to believe that the use of tariffs puts all the burden on American companies and consumers", US Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Thomas J Donohue said yesterday.
Trump said last Friday he had reached a deal to keep ZTE running, rolling back some penalties in exchange for security guarantees - infuriating Democrats and some in his own party.
In return, the Commerce Department lifted a seven-year ban on ZTE's purchase of USA components that it had just imposed earlier in May.
Then, this month, Chinese mobe maker ZTE shut down its operations after Uncle Sam banned United States businesses from shipping it components and other technology.
The relationship between Navarro and Mnuchin appears to have been souring for a while over U.S. In addition, the United States will continue efforts to protect domestic technology and intellectual property, stop noneconomic transfers of industrially significant technology and intellectual property to China, and enhance access to the Chinese market, the White House said. Under that program, China aims to take a leading role in developing technologies in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and electric cars.
Tariffs will also be cut on processed foods such as aquaculture and fishing products and mineral water, from 15.2 percent to 6.9 percent.
Officials published a first draft of the list this spring with about 1,300 items, including medical devices and industrial machinery, triggering a period for comments and feedback.
The tariff threat could still disrupt Ross's China talks.
Trade war fears had receded after the Trump administration said it had reached a deal to put ZTE Corp back in business after banning China's second-biggest telecoms equipment maker from buying USA technology parts for seven years.
The other area the U.S.is targeting is China's acquisition of high technology know how either by legitimate investments or what the USA labels intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers. China also subsidizes many favored industries.
"De-escalation over time through negotiation remains our base case because we see areas where China and the USA can find some middle ground to make some mutually beneficial progress, for example to meet China's own demand for upgrading consumption".
The Trump administration said Tuesday that it plans to shorten the length of validity of some visas issued to Chinese citizens as part of a push to counter alleged theft of USA intellectual property by Beijing.
Wilbur Ross is scheduled to go to Beijing this weekend to continue negotiations, making his position a bit awkward, to say the least. That's good for global stability, he added.