Chinese state media said the nation has never surrendered to external pressure and will win any trade war with the United States.

In a series of editorials and columns after the world’s two largest economies targeted each other with steep tariffs, several of Beijing’s official mouthpieces said it would stand up to Donald Trump’s “bullying tactics.”

The ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper said Beijing’s quick counter-move had caught the Americans off guard.

“Within 24 hours of the US publishing its list, China drew its sword, and with the same strength and to the same scale, counterattacked quickly, fiercely and with determination,” the paper said in a commentary on Thursday.

“The confidence to know that will win the trade war comes from the scale of [China’s] consumer market,” the paper said, noting China’s market potential is incomparable to other economies.

Earlier this week, the US said it would impose 25 per cent duties on $50bn (£35.6bn) worth of imports from China.

Washington said the move is aimed at forcing Beijing to address its theft of US intellectual property.

Within hours, China threatened to enact its own 25 per cent tariffs on $50bn worth of US products.

The tariffs appeared to be aimed at causing political damage to President Trump by striking signature US exports such as soybeans, frozen beef, cotton and other agricultural commodities produced in states from Iowa to Texas, which backed him in the 2016 presidential election. 

Earlier in the week, Beijing announced separate import duties on $3bn (£2.1bn) of US goods in response to the Trump administration’s duties on all steel and aluminium imports, including those from China.

The official Xinhua news agency said the US tariffs proposal would cost the United States “dearly”.

“China will not be afraid or back down if a trade war is unavoidable. The country has never surrendered to external pressure, and it will not surrender this time either,” the agency said.

The apparent determination not to back down is the polar opposite of a prediction made by the White House’s national economic council director, Larry Kudlow, who told Fox News Channel on Wednesday: “I believe that the Chinese will back down and will play ball.”

President Trump has repeatedly said in speeches the US will no longer let China take advantage of it on trade.

Washington’s list of some 1,300 products was focused on Chinese industrial technology, transport and medical products and tailored to do the least damage to US consumers.

Neither list has gone into effect. Washington is expected to hold a two month public comment period and Chinese officials have said its implementation will depend on US action. 

“It will be a couple of months before tariffs on either side would go into effect and be implemented, and we’re hopeful that China will do the right thing,” the White House’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said. 

China’s ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, stressed Beijing’s preference was to resolve the trade dispute through negotiations.

Mr Cui met with acting US secretary of state John Sullivan in Washington on Wednesday, and later told reporters the two countries should avoid a trade war.

“Negotiation would still be our preference, but it takes two to tango,” he said.