China's exports rose 17.7% in December, compared to a year earlier.
The rise breaks a 13-month decline in trade as a result of the global downturn.
Xinhua news agency said total exports for 2009 were $US1.2 trillion, but total foreign trade over the year was down 13.9%.
Last year saw a continuing decrease in China's trade as the global economic downturn led to a fall in demand for its products.
But there was a far greater rise than expected in the last few weeks of the year, with foreign exports reaching $US130.7 billion, up 17.7% on the previous December.
China's General Administration of Customs said exports overall in the year were $US1.2 trillion, down 16% from in 2008, while imports were 11.2% down from a year earlier at $US1.01 trillion.
The total trade surplus was down 34.2% to $US196.1 billion.
The BBC reports the figures suggests China will surpass Germany's export total for the whole of 2009, although this will not be confirmed until Germany's full-year data is published in February.