China's trade with North Korea slumped in September, amid United Nations sanctions aimed at deterring Kim Jong Un from pursuing his missile and nuclear-weapons program. China's September imports in dollar terms increase by 18.7% on-year, higher than expected, and exports rise 8.1%.
The surplus with the United States reached 28.1 billion in September, up from 24.9 billion in September of previous year.
China's import and export growth accelerated in September, suggesting the world's second-biggest economy is still expanding at a healthy pace despite widespread forecasts of an eventual slowdown.
Speaking at a press conference, Customs administration spokesman Huang Songping said China's imports from North Korea had dropped by nearly 38 percent in September year-on-year, while exports were down 6.7 percent.
As result, the trade surplus totaled USD28.47 billion in September versus the expected level of USD38.0 billion.
The breakdown of trade with North Korea was given in response to a reporter's question at a briefing following publication of China's overall trade statistics for September.
It was a better performance than August, when exports rose 5.5 per cent and imports were up 13.3 per cent.
Export growth was unexpectedly strong in the first half of the year, a positive sign for Chinese leaders who want to avoid job losses in trade-related industries as they try to nurture consumer-led economic growth.
China's imports have been growing at a double-digit pace since January. "Today's figures suggest that not only has strong foreign demand continued to prop up manufacturing activity in China but domestic demand remains resilient too", Capital Economics says in note.
Nevertheless, fishermen and seafood traders said smuggled seafood was still moving across the border.
China-US ties have been strained by President Donald Trump's criticism of China's trade practices and by demands that Beijing do more to put pressure on North Korea.
Authorities are in the midst of a campaign to reduce the risks from a rapid build-up in debt produced by years of credit-fueled stimulus, and sustained trade growth could give policymakers confidence to step up the campaign next year once the leadership reshuffle is out of the way.