The strong export data were announced when two days of high-level trade talks between the United States and China began in Beijing. Negotiations will be led by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Vice Premier Liu He for China.
Investors have become more optimistic that an agreement can be reached. US President Donald Trump said this week he was ready to extend his deadline on March 1, when the two sides seemed close to a deal.
Despite the recovery in Chinese exports in January, analysts are skeptical that they will last.
Exports are likely to have increased as Chinese companies toppled orders before the Lunar New Year, which fell in early February. The annual holiday, in which the land is shut down for at least a week, came in February last year.
According to Julian Evans-Pritchard, high-ranking Chinese economist at the research firm Capital Economics, demand for Chinese goods will be depressed, regardless of whether a trade agreement is reached between the US and China, according to a slowdown in global growth.
"Although the recent recovery in trade is genuine, the outlook for this year is still modest," he wrote in a statement to clients on Thursday.
Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.