By Daniel Hunter
China's monthly trade data shows exports fell by 6.2% in April in yuan terms, contrasting with expectations for a 1.5% rise.
Imports also fell for the month by 16.1% in yuan terms, compared with forecasts for a fall of about 12%.
The country's trade surplus has risen to 210.2 billion yuan (£21bn) from 18.6bn yuan in March.
Recent economic data has shown further signs that China's slowdown is continuing.
In US dollar terms, China's exports for the month fell 6.4%, while imports fell 16.2%, and the trade surplus rose to $34.13bn.
Some official numbers from the mainland are now reported by media in both currencies, because of currency conversion factors based on US dollar and Chinese yuan movements over the last year.
China's economy grew by 7.4% in 2014, its weakest for almost 25 years.