China's global trade surplus last month shrank 38.6 percent from the same time a year ago to US$28.5 billion.
The trade surplus narrowed in September to $28.47 billion from almost $42 billion the previous month, falling short of expectations for a $37.3 billion surplus.
Imports grew 18.7 percent in September from a year earlier, beating analysts' forecasts for a 13.5 percent expansion and accelerating from 13.3 percent in August, customs data showed on Friday.
With China's support, the United Nations has agreed on two rounds of sanctions since the beginning of August including bans on North Korean exports of iron, coal, lead, seafood, textiles, and oil import restrictions.
China says it has implemented successive rounds of sanctions agreed by the UN Security Council meant to pressure Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and missile programme.
In addition to pointing to still robust demand, some of the surge in September imports may be due to companies "front loading" supplies ahead of a week-long national holiday in early October, analysts said. China is North Korea's economic lifeline and Beijing's role in the sanctions effort is critical.
Given a weak first half of the year and expectations of lower demand during the winter months, that keeps the unwrought copper imports for this year on track to fall short of the record 4.94 million tonnes of annual imports in 2016. Still, Beijing is reluctant to trigger an economic collapse and chaos over its shared 1,350-kilometre border. US officials have resumed criticizing Chinese policy after President Donald Trump said in April he would temporarily shelve disputes while Washington and Beijing cooperated on North Korea.
China's import and export growth accelerated in September, suggesting the world's second-biggest economy is still expanding at a healthy pace despite widespread forecasts of an eventual slowdown.
China's imports of North Korean goods between January and September fell 16-point-seven percent year-on-year to stand at some one-and-a-half billion US dollars. The customs agency said it will publish details its trade in specific products with North Korea on Oct 23.
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