China's trade surplus fell to US$19.6 billion in November, down 38.6 percent from October, according to the customs bureau.
In a statement, the bureau says monthly exports rose 2.9 percent year-on-year to $179.4 billion, while imports were flat at $159.8 billion.
The figures suggest that the Chinese economy is still fragile, weighed down by weak foreign demand.
China's export-dependent economy has been struggling in the face of sluggish overseas demand this year as growth in the United States remained weak and the eurozone's debilitating debt crisis dragged it back into recession.
China's economic growth hit a more than three-year low of 7.4 per cent in the third quarter.
Despite the slowdown in trade, industrial production jumped 10.1 percent year-on-year in November, the third consecutive month of accelerating growth. Retail sales climbed 14.9 percent on year from 14.5 percent in October, while fixed asset investment rose 20.7 percent in the first 11 months of 2012, unchanged from the January-October period.