China's United States surplus jumps as trade with world picks up

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For 2017, China's imports from North Korea fell 33 percent from a year ago to $1.72 billion, while exports to the country rose 8.3 percent to $3.34 billion.

The billionaire's comments and economically nationalist platform - including pulling out of a key Pacific pact and threatening to tear up another with Canada - have fanned fears of a trade war.

Meanwhile, China in December exported a record high 6.17 million tonnes of refined fuel, beating the previous peak of 5.79 million tonnes set in November.

China's exports increased 10.8 percent to reach 15.33 trillion yuan while imports surged 18.7 percent to 12.46 trillion yuan in 2017, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said.

The U.S. was China's second-largest trade partner after the European Union, according to customs.

Demand for Chinese products is holding up as growth in major trade partners remains intact, and a feared trade war between China and the USA has yet to materialise.

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A commerce ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, said at a briefing on Thursday that China will "adopt all measures necessary to firmly protect the country's lawful interests and rights, should the US perversely take unilateral protectionist actions". Imports missed analysts' forecast of 13.0 percent growth and were a sharp decrease from the 17.7 percent rise in the previous month.

Imports of soybeans hit their second-highest monthly total in December of 9.55 million tonnes, and a record 95.54 million tonnes for the year. The president has connected the two issues a number of times.

United Nations sanctions targeting other exports to the North will likely cut into China's trade figures next year.

It was the weakest annual growth in imports since December 2016.

For the full year, exports rose to almost $2.3 trillion while imports expanded to $1.8 trillion yuan.

The December data show China has implemented a series of UN Security Council resolutions this year, targeting the North's most profitable exports.

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