Imports in April had risen 0.8 per cent, up from March's 11.3-per-cent decline.
Exports were valued at 196 billion dollars, up 7 per cent year-on-year, customs data showed. Exports rose 0.9 per cent in April, recovering from March's decline of 6.6 per cent.
Total foreign trade volume increased 3 per cent to 355 billion dollars, the General Administration of Customs reported.
The trade surplus for the month stood at 36 billion dollars.
The government is trying to promote domestic consumption and more sustainable growth as it tries to rebalance the economy away from its reliance on exports and investment in infrastructure.
China's economy is expected to slow to 7.5 per cent in 2014 and 7.4 per cent in 2015, from 7.7 per cent in 2013, as policies promoting more sustainable, equitable and balanced growth are implemented.