Trade figures in dollars will be released later in the day.
North Korea's deficit with China more than tripled in the first nine months of the year from the same period in 2016, to US$1.07 billion, he said, without giving further explanation.
China's September trade surplus reached 28.5 billion, compared to customs revised figure for August of 41 billion.
China's imports of copper and copper products climbed by 26.5 percent year-on-year in September, Reuters calculations based on customs data showed Friday, but still remain on course for an annual drop in 2017.
It is good news for President Xi who is expected to secure a second five-year term as general secretary of the Communist Party during its twice-a-decade congress, which opens on Wednesday. The rise beat the poll's forecast for a 15% gain.
That left the country with a trade surplus of $28.47bn, less than the near $40bn expected and down from around $42bn in August. The surge in imports shows demand in China is strong.
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Exports to the United States grew 13.8 percent on-year from 8.4 percent in August and hit a record $40.9 billion.
Demand for Chinese products has proven robust as growth in major trading partners holds up, though this trade report also gets a boost from a comparison with a low base past year.
With the wider world, China's trade is booming - exports and imports surged in September, official data showed. USA 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.
Trump in August authorized an inquiry into China's alleged theft of intellectual property in the first direct trade measure by his administration against Beijing, but the move is not expected to prompt any near-term change.
Authorities are in the midst of a campaign to reduce the risks from a rapid build-up in debt produced by years of credit-fueled stimulus, and sustained trade growth could give policymakers confidence to step up the campaign next year once the leadership reshuffle is out of the way.