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Exports from the second largest economy in the world increased by 11.3% from the same period one year previously, while China's imports grew by 17.1% both exceeding expectations of analysts showed official data.

In yuan terms, China's exports grew 17.3% on year in June, while imports jumped 23.1%.

Unexpectedly strong export demand could help to support Chinese economic growth that is forecast to weaken this year as Beijing tightens bank lending controls to reduce the risks of rising debt.

Thursday's figures suggest a different picture, although they also showed significant growth in overall bilateral trade in the first six months of the year thanks to a 29 percent spike in Chinese exports to North Korea.

The numbers come amid a trade dispute with the United States, which says China has flooded worldwide markets with cheap aluminium and steel.

The Trump administration has been calling on Beijing to use its economic leverage over its errant neighbor to make the Kim regime stop firing off missiles and bellicose threats.

But he said foreign trade could face tough conditions in the second half due to a higher comparative basis, stronger worldwide competition, uncertainties in the global environment and deep-seated problems in the domestic economy.

As regards commodity imports, those fell in value terms with the falling price of oil acting as a drag.

As developed economies shore up advanced manufacturing and emerging economies strengthened on low production costs, China's exports should face more fierce competition in the global market.

It was also an improvement on the 8.7% level reported a month earlier.

Several economists expect the Chinese government to intensify its crackdown on the unscrupulous lending practices and a cool down in real estate to equal slower growth.

But he reaffirmed the view that the strong fundamentals of China's foreign trade have not changed, and will continue to have good momentum.

China's total trade with North Korea has risen, with iron ore imports increasing by 34 percent in the first five months of the year when compared to a year earlier, the Korea International Trade Association, a South Korean industry group, told the news wire.

China insisted yesterday that it was abiding by United Nations sanctions on North Korea despite a jump in its trade with the nuclear-armed nation that comes amid growing U.S. calls for Beijing to rein in its neighbor.