China's April exports rose 12.9 percent from a year earlier, rebounding from a drop in March, while imports grew 21.5 percent, both growing much faster than expected despite worries over an escalating trade dispute with the United States.
That left the country with a trade surplus of $28.78 billion for the month, customs data showed on Tuesday.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected April shipments from the world's largest exporter to have risen 6.3 percent on year, bouncing back from a 2.7 percent decline the previous month that was believed to have been heavily distorted by seasonal factors.
Import growth had been expected to pick up to 16 percent, compared with 14.4 percent one month earlier.
Analysts had expected China to post a trade surplus of $24.7 billion for April after a rare deficit of $4.98 billion the previous month.
For January-April combined, exports rose 16.5 percent, and imports rose 19.6 percent on year, suggesting global demand remains resilient despite concerns about rising trade protectionism.