At 12.01 a.m. EDT on Thursday, the U.S. imposed an additional 25 percent duty on another $16 billion of Chinese imports.
The mainland China markets recovered from their earlier losses to close higher. The Shanghai composite ended the trading day up by 0.37 percent around 2,724.63 while the Shenzhen composite closed 0.631 percent higher at about 1,463.69. The smaller NASDAQ-style Chinext Composite ended the day up 1.10 percent to close at 1,758.06
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index traded down by 0.42 percent at 3:03 p.m. HK/SIN.
Both the offshore and onshore yuan were weaker against the dollar at 6.8660 and 6.8686 respectively at 3:14 p.m. HK/SIN.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed in positive territory, up by 0.22 percent at 22,410.82. South Korea's KOSPI recovered from its earlier losses to close up by 0.41 percent at 2,282.60.
Down Under, the ASX 200 edged lower by by 0.34 percent to close at 6,244.4. Following the release of earnings before the market open, Santos ended the trading day up by 11.32 percent as it revived its dividend. In the airline space, Qantas Airways tumbled 2.83 percent after its pre-market open announcement of a record annual underlying profit.
The Australian dollar weakened during Asian trade, down by 0.68 percent to $0.7296 at 3:15 p.m. HK/SIN.
The moves come amid political turmoil in the country as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull faces another challenge for the leadership of his party, following the resignation of Finance Minister Mathias Cormann earlier on Thursday.
"It seems that Senator Cormann's change of allegiance would really be the final nail for the Turnbull prime ministership. It appears that there's almost no chance now," said Alex Oliver, director of research at the Lowy Institute, on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
Speaking with CNBC's Martin Soong earlier today, Rodney Tiffen, a professor at the University of Sydney, said the situation is "really quite unpredictable."
"We're entering unchartered territory," he added.
|ASX 200||S&P/ASX 200||6244.40||-21.60||-0.34%|
|CNBC 100||CNBC 100 ASIA IDX||8181.36||-36.43||-0.44%|
In the oil markets, Brent crude futures dipped lower at $74.48 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures, which were trading close to flat earlier, nodded downward at $67.74 a barrel.
As Wall Street weighed the importance of the new political revelations surrounding U.S. President Donald Trump against the strength of corporate earnings, markets stateside finished the trading day in mixed territory.
On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts of felony related to tax fraud and making false statements to a financial institution. Cohen also admitted to making payments to two women at Trump's direction.
Meanwhile, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight counts in a separate case.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 89 points to close at 25,733.60. The S&P 500 closed near flat at 2,861.82 while the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.38 percent to close at 7,889.10.
The moves overnight also coincided with the current bull market in the U.S. turning 3,453 days old – the longest on record. Some strategists do not see the political storm surrounding Trump as having a negative impact on the U.S. bull market.
– Reuters contributed to this report.