The gain was stronger than the most optimistic forecast in a Reuters analysts poll. Imports were forecast to jump 13.5 percent in the same period.
Trade figures in dollars will be released later in the day.
The gap, almost 20 percent more than the same period a year earlier, was attributed to service imports in tourism, transportation and other traditional sectors, the MOC said.
Looking ahead, Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics, said he expects any further weakening of exports to remain mild given the relatively upbeat outlook for growth in China's main trading partners.
China's total trade with North Korea between January and September rose 3.7% to US$4.03 billion, with the growth rate declining from 7.5% over the first eight months of the year.
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Exports increased 8.1% in September compared with the same period a year earlier, following 5.5% growth in August, the General Administration of Customs said Friday.
That left the country with a trade surplus of $28.47bn, less than the near $40bn expected and down from around $42bn in August. The surplus grew to $28.08 billion from $26.23 billion in August.
In September, China's foreign trade rose 13.6 percent to 2.46 trillion yuan, with exports up 9 percent and imports up 19.5 percent. China's economy will grow 6.8 percent this year and 6.5 percent next year, also both 0.1 percentage point higher than its July forecasts.
That translates to 42-49 million tonnes of iron ore consumption, equivalent to about 3 percent of the global seaborne iron ore market, he said.
"There are still some infrastructure investments ongoing and some stabilisation in property investment, so I would not worry too much about the impact of environmental efforts on the growth momentum", ANZ's Wang said.