Export growth was unexpectedly strong in the first half of the year, a positive sign for Chinese leaders who want to avoid job losses in trade-related industries.
Forecasters have warned Chinese economic growth will cool this year, dampening demand for foreign goods, as controls imposed on bank lending to slow a rise in debt take hold. Shipments to Japan bucked the trend, however, picking up 1.1 percentage points for a rise in value of 6.6 percent year on year in July.
Chinese imports rose by 14.7 per cent year-on-year in July while exports increased by 11.2 per cent, the Chinese General Administration of Customs reported says. The June figure was slightly below the EUR21.4 billion expected in a Wall Street Journal survey of economists last week.
In contrast, South Korea experienced export growth during July while Taiwan's was almost unchanged. The country's trade surplus stood at $46.7 billion, lower than at the year's beginning.
China's trade surplus widened for a fifth month in July as export growth remained solid and imports moderated, keeping the spotlight on a trade gap U.S. President Donald Trump aims to narrow.
The China data, described as disappointing, came one day after Fitch, the ratings agency, upgraded an outlook for the world economy for 2017 and 2018, citing recoveries across China as well as in many emerging markets.
"In particular, the sharp decline in import growth since the start of the year suggests that domestic demand is softening".
German imports even fell by 4.5 percent in what was the biggest monthly fall since 2009.
Imports from Japan to China grew by 15.6 percent year on year and imports from the United States increased by 19.8 percent.
The benchmark German 10-year bond yields, which moves inversely to its price hovered around 0.45 percent, the yield on long-term 30-year note remained flat at 1.20 percent and the yield on short-term 3-year traded almost 1 basis point higher at -0.67 percent by 09:00GMT.