China's measured response to the U.S. move to hike tariffs on $18 billion of Chinese goods ranging from syringes to batteries suggests relations between the world's two largest economies face more frost rather than a fresh firefight over trade.

China denounced U.S. President Joe Biden's administration's action and vowed "resolute measures" to protect its interests.

But Beijing's response also suggests a new dynamic — and confidence — compared with 2018, when former U.S. President Donald Trump's tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods touched off an escalating trade war, analysts said.