China bought 10.08 million tonnes of soybeans in July, the highest level in records that go back to 2010, customs data showed on Tuesday, arriving as a backlog of previously purchased supplies caused logjams at Chinese ports.
Chinese exports have risen by 21.8 percent year-on-year over January-July, whereas import figures indicate a growth of 29.5 percent.
Since persisting weakness in the yuan caused a gush of outflows and a plummet in reserves starting two years ago, the central bank has been battling to turn the tide.
Imports increased 14.7 percent, slowing from 23.1 percent in June.
Growth in exports to most major trading partners was down visibly, with those to the United States falling more than 10 percentage points from the previous month to notch year-on-year growth of just 8.9 percent in July.
However, the performance was good enough to see China's trade surplus edge up to $US46.7 billion, its widest margin since the start of the year.
Meanwhile, Deng described the combined trade growth for the first seven months as relatively high.
Bai expects the pressure for appreciation to persist in the second half of the year, while predicting overall stable growth in foreign trade.
The yuan strengthened around 0.8 percent against the dollar in July, its third straight month of gains.
Coal imports were down 9.9 per cent from June, to be more than 8 per cent lower over the year. Customs does not provide percentage changes for the monthly data.
China set its monetary policy as prudent and neutral for 2017 as authorities try to balance financial deleveraging and support economic growth.
Some analysts said the softer results were due to one-off or seasonal factors, but others believed the weaker growth for imports could be the first sign of a slowdown that many have expected in the second largest economy in the world after a strong first six months that surprised many.
Germany's trade surplus widened slightly in June, though both imports and exports declined, data from the country's statistics office showed Tuesday.