Japan' Nikkei 225 closed near flat at 23,674.93 while the Topix index added 1.94 points, or 0.11 percent, to 1,787.6.
In South Korea, the Kospi gained 14.99 points, or 0.65 percent, to 2,323.45. Shares of Samsung Electronics rose 2.4 percent and Hyundai Motor added nearly 2 percent.
Chinese mainland markets finished slightly lower. The Shanghai composite fell 0.06 percent to 2,729.25 and the Shenzhen composite declined 3.2 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1,420.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 0.26 percent to 27,477.67.
Chinese online services company Meituan Dianping made its trading debut in Hong Kong. The stock traded at around 72.85 Hong Kong dollars in late afternoon trade, compared to Meituan's initial public offering price of HK$69 a share, which reports said valued the company at $53 billion.
Down Under, the ASX 200 fell 20.5 points, or 0.33 percent, to 6,169.5, with most sectors declining. The energy subindex fell 0.97 percent and the heavily weighted financial sector was down 0.34 percent.
|NIKKEI||Nikkei 225 Index||23674.93||2.41||0.01%|
|HSI||Hang Seng Index||27477.67||70.30||0.26%|
|ASX 200||S&P/ASX 200||6169.50||-20.50||-0.33%|
|CNBC 100||CNBC 100 ASIA IDX||8200.08||30.70||0.38%|
Beijing announced tariffs targeting more than 5,000 U.S. products — worth about $60 billion — will go into effect on Sept. 24. That came after the Trump administration said the U.S. will impose 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, and those duties will rise to 25 percent at the end of the year.
Premier Li Keqiang addressed the World Economic Forum in Tianjin on Wednesday, where he acknowledged that China is being confronted with a host of challenges and is facing "greater difficulties in keeping stable performance of the Chinese economy." But he insisted that China was comfortable with its economic situation, and that Beijing has prepared sufficient policy tools to boost the country's resilience in coping with various difficulties.
Li also said that China will not resort to competitive devaluation of the yuan amid the ongoing trade spat. While he did not directly mention the trade conflict, the prime minister said talk of Beijing deliberately weakening its currency was "groundless."
Analysts said Li's comments fortified investor sentiment.
On the same day, Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Chinese retail behemoth Alibaba, said his company no longer had intentions to bring 1 million jobs to the U.S., given the ongoing trade war between Beijing and Washington.
"The promise was made on the premise of friendly US-China partnership and rational trade relations," Ma said to Chinese news site Xinhua. "That premise no longer exists today, so our promise cannot be fulfilled."
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, traded at 94.376 at 3:54 p.m. HK/SIN, weakening from earlier high of 94.563.
The Japanese yen traded at 112.18 to the dollar, while the Australian dollar was at $0.7273.
Oil prices rose in late-afternoon trade in Asia with U.S. crude adding 0.77 percent to $71.67 a barrel at 3:56 p.m. HK/SIN. Global benchmark Brent was up 0.37 percent at $79.69.
— CNBC's Evelyn Cheng and Reuters contributed to this report.