China’s overall trade - what it buys and sells with all countries, including the US - logged a US$44.7bn surplus in November, up from US$35bn the previous month, the data showed.
But growth of exports and imports slowed from October, with exports rising 5.4 per cent for November on-year, short of the 9.4 per cent forecast by Bloomberg News, and imports rising three per cent on-year, also below the forecast.
The sagging export and import growth is another bad sign for China’s economy, which grew at its slowest pace for nine years in the third quarter, expanding 6.5 per cent on-year for JulySeptember.
While exports to the US have held up so far this autumn, the row has sapped confidence.
The Shanghai composite stock index has fallen by about one-quarter from its January high, while the yuan has slipped about nine per cent against the dollar.
The trade tensions with Washington come at a tough time for Beijing, which is battling to tackle a mountain of debt as credit tightens and infrastructure investment falls.
Last week, as part of the trade war truce, Trump agreed to hold off on plans to raise tariffs on US$200bn in Chinese imports to 25 per cent beginning January 1, leaving them at the current ten per cent rate.