The surplus with the US rose more than 17 percent to $323.3 billion in 2018, driven by an 11 percent jump in exports and flat imports. At the same time, China's imports from Russian Federation grew by 42.7 percent, reaching $59.08 billion.
Exports rose 7.1 per cent, customs data showed Monday, down from the 7.9 per cent reported earlier for 2017.
"Meanwhile, with policy easing unlikely to put a floor beneath domestic economic activity until the second half of this year, import growth is likely to remain subdued".
Despite the levies, exports to the United States grew 11.3 percent previous year while imports rose 0.7 percent, expanding the surplus to $323.3 billion from $275.8 billion in 2017, customs data show.
China's large trade surplus with the United States has always been a sore point with Washington, which has demanded Beijing should take steps to reduce it.
A large U.S. delegation ended a three-day visit to Beijing last week in the first face-to-face trade talks since Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in December pledged a three-month truce in the escalating tariff spat.
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The decline also bucked the usual trend for soybean shipments to surge in December as farmers fatten pigs for slaughter ahead of China's Lunar New Year festival that falls in January or February. Both were the worst result since 2016, and left a trade surplus of $57.1 billion.
"In 2019, the biggest worry for China's trade is due to complex and grim external environment", Li Kuiwen, spokesperson for General Administration of Customs, said during press conference.
Chinese exporters also face pressure from cooling consumer demand in other global markets.
A slowdown in global demand and a trade dispute with the United States are being blamed for the current predicament China finds itself in.
Exports to the United States held up through late 2018 despite President Donald Trump's tariff hikes on Chinese goods.