China has posted a significant rise in its trade surplus, with both exports and imports surging much more strongly than expected by analysts. Many economists suggested the figures may be distorted.
The General Administration of Customs reported Wednesday China's trade surplus rose by 14 percent in January compared with the same month a year earlier and rebounding from a decline in December.
It said exports jumped far more than expected, increasing by 10.6 percent to $207.13 billion (151.81 billion euros), while imports climbed by 10 percent to $175.27 billion.
The strong export figures surprised many economists, with some suggesting they were driven by disguised capital flows instead of real demand.
"We find this strong level of export growth puzzling," Nomura International analyst Zhang Zhiwei said in a statement, adding it was unclear to what extent it indicated the true strength of China's economy.
"While this could reflect an improving external demand, we suspect that export over-invoicing activities have reemerged," ANZ bank experts Liu Li-Gang and Zhou Hao commented.
January's trade results came after China's economy logged flat growth of 7.7 percent throughout 2013, maintaining its slowest expansion of gross domestic product in more than a decade.
hg/jm (AFP, Reuters)