Asian stock markets slumped Friday after Beijing responded to the Trump administration's tariff hikes by saying it may slap higher import duties on a range of U.S. goods, ratcheting up fears of a trade war.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index plunged 3.8 per cent to 20,765.74 and South Korea's Kospi tumbled 2.3 per cent to 2,439.53.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 3.4 per cent to 30,001.57 and the Shanghai Composite in mainland China sank 2.9 per cent to 3,169.19. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 skidded 1.9 per cent to 5,824.50.

China unveiled a list of U.S. goods including pork, apples and steel pipe that it may hit with higher import duties in response to President Donald Trump's tariff hike on steel and aluminum.

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The Commerce Ministry urged Washington to negotiate a settlement, saying U.S. tariffs undermine the global trading system.

Hours earlier, Trump set in motion a new round of sanctions that include tariffs on US$48 billion ($66.4b) worth of Chinese imports, which he said was in response to theft of American technology.

"The end objective of this is to get China to modify its unfair trading practices," said Everett Eissenstat, deputy assistant to the president for international economic affairs.

This morning, The Dow Jones industrial average also plunged, dropping 700 points.

- AP