Chinese exports climbed 3.3% from a year earlier to $221.5 billion last month, up from a 1.3% contraction in June. Analysts had expected a 2.0% drop after June's 1.3% fall.
China's exports to the US fell 6.5% in July from a year earlier, compared with a 7.8% decline in June, customs data show. Still, the drop was less than an expected 8.3 percent and June's 7.3 percent.
China's trade surplus with the USA stood at US$27.97 billion in July, narrowing from June's US$29.92 billion.
"It could suggest that some exporters are trying to diversify their export regions, it could also be due to manufacturers' relocations to ASEAN [from China]", Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd senior China economist Betty Wang (王蕊) said.
Noting that the tariffs imposed by Washington are "costing American jobs, raising prices, hurting farmers and derailing USA economic growth", the group urged the administration to "change course", and called on Congress to "get off the sidelines and take back its legislative authority on trade".
"This year, China did not only increase its market share in major economies like the European Union, what's more outstanding is the growth rate in emerging markets is very clear, especially the countries who we work with on Belt and Road", said Yan Min, the director of the forecasting department at the State Information Center, according to state media.
As well as locking China into a lengthy trade war, the U.S. has ratcheted up military tensions in the region.
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The United States raised tariffs on a large number of Chinese goods in May, after trade negotiations broke down, and Beijing retaliated.
Washington and Beijing have been embroiled in a trade dispute since June 2018, when Trump announced he was imposing tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports to fix what he claimed were "unfair trade practices".
China's Ministry of Commerce said this week that purchases of US agricultural products by Chinese companies have been "suspended".
While China's exports to the USA continued to shrink last month in the face of stiffer tariffs, shipments picked up to Taiwan, Europe, South Korea and, most noticeably, ASEAN.
With Chinese buying on hold, USA exporters will instead focus on shipping orders made earlier this year when the two sides appeared headed for a deal, a list that includes more than 4 million tonnes of soybeans and almost 103,500 tonnes of pork.
The central bank on Thursday set the starting point for the yuan's daily trading at 7.0039 to the USA dollar - the first time since 2008 that the level was set below the politically sensitive level of seven to the dollar.