China registered robust growth in imports and exports of goods in January, while its trade surplus with the United States shrank amid rising China-US trade tensions, the General Administration of Customs said on Thursday.
The country's imports surged by 30.2 percent year-on-year to 1.19 trillion yuan ($188.34 billion) in January, while exports increased by 6 percent to 1.32 trillion yuan, according to the GAC.
The rising import momentum "indicates domestic demand remains healthy going into 2018", Louis Kuijs, an economist of Oxford Economics, said in a report.
China last month purchased 100 million metric tons of iron ore, up by 9.3 percent year-on-year, 40.64 million metric tons of crude oil, an increase of 19.6 percent, and 1.19 million metric tons of steel, up by 8.9 percent, from overseas markets.
"The notable rise in commodity imports indicates the country's manufacturing sectors stocked more materials for production," said Li Guanghui, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.
China's robust export indicates steady global demand momentum, Kuijs said.
"While we expect the favorable external setting to continue to support China's exports, rising US-China trade friction remains a key risk," he said. "We expect the US administration to scale up on measures impeding imports, especially from China, as well as targeting the country in other ways."
China's exports to the US rose by 7.5 percent year-on-year to 248.35 billion yuan, while its imports soared 20.5 percent to 103.59 billion yuan, leading to a 144.76 billion yuan trade surplus with the US, down by 0.2 percent year-on-year.
As US President Donald Trump's administration has slapped tariffs on solar panels and washing machines from China, and some other countries such as South Korea and Mexico, the nation has initiated an anti-dumping probe on imports of sorghum, which is a type of grain processed into feed, from the US last week.
The move is a "normal case" of trade remedies, said Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng on Thursday.
"We oppose the US unilateralism and protectionist approach and hope the country can deal with it prudently," Gao said at a news conference.
"We will carry out trade remedy practice strictly in accordance with the WTO rules and China's relevant laws," he said. "We also hope that the WTO members concerned will abide by international rules and properly resolve their economic and trade differences through dialogue and cooperation."