China reported strong trade data on Friday just days ahead of a major Communist Party Congress.
In September, China's exports were up 8.1 percent from a year ago in dollar terms, while imports were up 18.7 percent.
Analysts polled by Reuters expected an 8.8 percent rise in Chinese exports in September from a year ago in dollar terms. Dollar-denominated imports were forecast to jump 13.5 percent in the same period.
China's August exports were up 5.5 percent from a year ago in dollar terms, while imports were up 13.3 percent in dollar terms.
China's September trade surplus was $28.47 billion — the lowest since March 2017.
China's August trade balance was $41.99 billion, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.
China's economic data have been showing robust growth ahead of leadership changes set to happen at the upcoming Party Congress.
Huang Songping, spokesman for the Customs department told a press conference on Friday that trade for the first three quarters improved due to a recovery in overall global and domestic economic environment. There has been a return in global demand, he added.
But many expect the mainland's economy to slow in the later part of the year due to a crackdown on debt and as the property market cools.
Trade with North Korea
Chinese Customs also highlighted a slide in trade with North Korea at its Friday press conference.
According to Huang, imports from North Korea tanked 37.9 percent in September from a year ago, marking its seventh month of decline. Imports of coal, iron ore, and apparel fell, while there was no record of seafood imports, he added.
Chinese exports to North Korea fell 6.7 percent in September.
Chinese trade with North Korea has been under the microscope amid multiple missile and nuclear tests from the reclusive regime that have escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula.