China's imports see sharp fall in September
China saw a sharp fall in the value of its imports last month, figures show, raising further questions over the strength of its economy.
In dollar terms, imports dropped 20.4% from a year earlier to $145.2bn, a steeper fall than had been expected.
The drop was due to lower commodity prices and weaker domestic demand.
Next week, China is due to report its third-quarter growth rate, which is expected to be lower than the 7% annual pace seen in the second quarter.
China recently revised down its growth rate for 2014 from 7.4% to 7.3%, the weakest pace for almost 25 years.
China has been attempting to shift from an export-led economy to a consumer-led one, although the steep fall in imports suggests domestic demand is not as strong as the government would have hoped.
In dollar terms, China's exports fell by 3.7% from a year earlier to $205.6bn - although analysts had forecast a steeper fall.
The country's trade surplus nearly doubled to $60.34bn.
In yuan-denominated terms, imports fell by 17.7% while exports were down 1.1%.
In a research note, economists at ANZ said: "September's import figure does not bode well for industrial production and fixed-asset investment.
"Overall growth momentum last month remained weak and third-quarter GDP growth to be released next Monday will likely have edged down to 6.4% in the third quarter, compared with 7% in the first half."