China's trade surplus soared to its second-highest monthly level on record in July, according to data reported Friday, amid mounting pressure by US lawmakers to sanction Beijing over trade and currency disputes.
July's surplus totaled US$24.4 billion, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the Chinese customs agency. That was a 40 percent jump from the year-earlier period and beat every previous month except June's all-time high of US$26.9 billion.
Analysts had expected the surplus to ease in July after exporters rushed to ship goods in earlier months to beat changes in tax policy meant to narrow China's trade gap.
The July figure raised China's total trade surplus for the first seven months of this year to US$136.8 billion, according to Xinhua.
Beijing has reiterated it is not actively pursuing a trade surplus and has tried to cool the boom by repealing rebates of value-added taxes on hundreds of products and imposing additional taxes on exports of some goods such as steel.
But despite such steps, foreign demand for Chinese goods has surged while import growth has slowed due to government efforts to contain a boom in construction and investment that it worries could cause a financial crisis. That has cut into Chinese purchases of factory equipment and other foreign goods.
China has reported its five highest monthly trade surpluses in the past ten months.
June's record US$26.9 billion broke the earlier record of US$23.8 billion set in October and surpassed February's US$23.7 billion and May's US$22.4 billion.