Surging imports and falling tax rebates pushed China's trade deficit up to US$7.87 billion.
Although the nation reported a trade deficit in January, this was just US$30 million.
Exports rose a year-on-year 29 percent to US$69.9 billion in the first two months and imports jumped 42 percent to US$77.8 billion, according to the Ministry of Commerce website.
Exports totaled US$34.1 billion in February, a year-on-year hike of 39.5 percent. Imports rose sharply, jumping 77 percent to US$42 billion.
Li Yushi, an expert from the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (CAITEC), a ministry think-tank, said the indications from the first two months of the year were that China is changing its surplus-dominated mode of trading.
"The country has to buy more products from abroad to feed its roaring economy," he said.
The country's appetite for imports is also becoming more voracious thanks to Chinese leaders' efforts to use the development tool of lifting domestic demand.
Exports will continue to grow moderately because of strong global demand, but the rate will not be as high as imports, Li said.
Li added that sales of Chinese exports may continue to be damped down by an average of 3 percentage points.
Ahead of the change, December's exports jumped by 51 percent, as shipments were accelerated to take full advantage of the rebates.
China reported a trade surplus of US$25.5 billion last year, down 16 percent from the previous year.
(China Daily March 11, 2004)