China's falling trade surplus with the US is good news for Beijing, which has been under attack by President Donald Trump for months. (Photo: AFP)

China's trade surplus with the US narrows slightly

China's trade surplus with the United States narrowed for a second month in a row in February, dropping to US$21 billion, official data showed Thursday (Mar 8) amid rising trade tensions with the Trump administration.

The monthly customs data presentation came after President Donald Trump tweeted that China had been asked to cut the trade imbalance by US$1 billion this year.

Trump has raised fears of a global trade war with his plan to sign off on tariffs on steel and aluminium as early as Thursday, though the White House signalled that US allies could get a reprieve.

While China's surplus with the US was down from US$21.9 billion in January and US$25.6 billion in December, it is still more than double that of February last year, according to the Chinese customs bureau.

Other customs data showed China's exports to the world surged in February, rising 44.5 per cent compared with the same period last year, beating the 11 per cent growth forecast by Bloomberg News.

But imports grew a disappointing 6.3 per cent for the month, shy of the 8 per cent expected by analysts.

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