(MENAFN - AFP) China's exports surged more than twice the expected pace in November, official data showed on Friday, as tensions with its largest trading partners flare.
The healthy trade data is welcome news for the world's number-two economy as Beijing looks to tackle industrial overcapacity, winter pollution and a ballooning debt pile.
Exports jumped 12.3 percent year-on-year to $217.4 billion, blowing past the 5.3 percent forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.
"The robust global economy -- both the developed and developing economies -- has lifted China's exports," Yao Shaohua, an economist at ABCI Securities Co., told Bloomberg News.
Imports expanded 17.7 percent to $177.2 billion, surpassing expectations of 13 percent.
However, China's trade surplus grew last month to $40.2 billion, suggesting tensions with key markets such as the United States and the European Union are unlikely to let up in the near future.
Strains in Beijing's relationship with Washington in particular are high -- November's trade data may add fuel to the fire with the Chinese trade surplus over the US ballooning 18.8 percent year-on-year, in renminbi terms.
- Protectionism likened to 'poison' -
US President Donald Trump has taken an aggressive stance on trade, vowing to reduce bilateral trade deficits -- particularly with China.
Visiting Beijing last month, Trump said he did not blame China for taking advantage of past US administrations on trade but indicated he would level the playing field for American companies.
"After my tour of Asia, all Countries dealing with us on TRADE know that the rules have changed," he tweeted following the visit.
"The massive TRADE deficits must go down quickly!"
Since coming into office, his administration has rapidly upped the number of tariffs and trade cases launched against China.
Last month the US Commerce Department launched an investigation into some of China's exports on its own initiative, rather than at the behest of companies, for the first time in a quarter century.
That followed new tariffs on Chinese aluminium foil and plywood imports, among others.
Many of these tariffs are applied under a US determination that China is not a market economy.
This approach allows the US greater leeway to levy duties on imports from China by comparing them to the prices of similar goods produced in "surrogate countries", rather than using Chinese data on prices in its own market.
But Beijing has ferociously denounced that policy since late last year, saying other countries are obliged to discontinue use of the "surrogate country" approach.
When asked about the US's refusal to drop the classification on Thursday, Gao Feng, a spokesman for China's commerce ministry said: "We hope the US does not ignore international rules."
Late last month, Washington said it rejected China's bid for market economy status in the World Trade Organization, filing a brief in support of the European Union in a related case.
Separately, the EU finalised a long debated move this month to battle underpriced Chinese imports, allowing higher tariff penalties to be more rapidly levied on imports manufactured at below cost.
China is contesting the positions of the EU and US to the WTO, and has criticised the US as failing to live up to its WTO obligations.
"Only by increasing cooperation can we increase mutual benefits," Gao said.
"Exercising trade protectionism is like quenching thirst with poison."