However, economists doubted the accuracy of the figures and the strength of the real demand.
China's April trade surplus was $18.2bn (£11.7bn, €13.9bn), compared to an unexpected deficit of $884m in March. Economists estimated a trade surplus of $15.1bn for the month.
Exports for April rose 14.7% to $187.1bn, while imports increased by 16.8% to $168.9bn, according to the Customs Administration. That compares to analysts estimates for a 10.3% rise in exports and a 13.9% increase in imports.
China's April trade with the rest of the world gained 12% year-on-year, while trade with Hong Kong surged by 55%. Excluding Hong Kong, China ran a $20bn trade deficit with the rest of the world in the month.
Nevertheless, there is a rising discrepancy between China's trade growth and Hong Kong's exports to the rest of the world, according to some analysts.
By destination, exports to the US declined 0.1% year-on-year, following a 6.5% contraction in March and that to the European Union fell by 6.4% from a 14% contraction in the prior month. Exports to Hong Kong, ASEAN and Taiwan rose 57.2%, 37.2% and 49.2%, respectively.
For the first four months of 2013, the country recorded a trade surplus of $61bn.
Investors have been concerned about the uneven growth in China's economy that recorded a gross domestic product growth of 7.8% in 2012, the slowest pace in more than a decade. The decline was driven by weakness at home and other key export markets.
Though the country posted a growth rate of 7.9% in the fourth quarter of 2012, reigniting optimism about the economy, it suddenly retreated to a 7.7% growth in the first quarter.
China's State Information Centre predicts the economy to grow at 8% in the second quarter, with consumer price index inflation growing at about 2.3%. Indicating a sluggish start for the second quarter, growth in the manufacturing and services sectors slowed down in April, according to separate surveys.
In 2012, the country's trade increased by 6.2%, missing official target for about 10% growth. China expects an 8% trade growth in 2013.
The latest trade data signals a gradual revival in external demand, but some analysts say that exporters may have overstated their business to sneak funds in the country and avoid capital restrictions.