China said its trade in the first half "witnessed fast yet balanced growth" despite many obstacles.

In addition to the steady increase in export costs, the problems besetting trade include "serious protectionism in international trade and unjustified unilateral restrictions imposed on China," said Zhou Jie, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation.Customs statistics show foreign trade volume reached $126.4 billion, up 29.6 percent over the first half of 1994. Exports rose 44 percent to $69.79 billion and imports rose 15 percent to $56.61 billion.

Exports of manufactured goods earned $59.19 billion in the first six months, 47 percent more than a year before. Their share in total exports increased to 84.8 percent from 83.1 percent.

China imported $45.63 billion of manufactured goods in the half, an increase of 6.7 percent year on year. They accounted for 80.6 percent of the country's total, down from 87 percent in the first half of 1994.

Imports of primary goods went up 72.2 percent, Mr. Zhou said, but didn't give any figure or comparison.

The foreign trade volume of foreign-funded enterprises was $46.3 billion in the first half, an increase of 29.4 percent on a year earlier, the official said. Their exports rose 40.6 percent to $18.94 billion and imports rose 22.6 percent to $27.36 billion.

China has repeatedly accused the United States in particular of imposing unjust restrictions on trade, especially textiles. China's surplus on bilateral commerce in the half jumped to $4.05 billion from $2.83 billion a year earlier, its customs figures show.

Exports to the United States rose 30.2 percent to $11.2 billion, while its imports of American goods increased 25.6 percent to $7.14 billion, those statistics show. Export earnings will have been larger because China doesn't include huge transshipments via Hong Kong.

The United States ranks third among China's trade partners, with total volume up 28 percent to $18.35 billion in the first six months.

Japan remained the largest bilateral partner at $24.56 billion, up 27.6 percent and accounting for one-fifth China's total in the first half. China says it converted a deficit of $2.98 billion in the first half of last year to a surplus of $74 million, with its exports up 51.6 percent to $12.31 billion while imports grew just 10 percent to $12.24 billion.

Hong Kong ranked second among China's trading partners at $23.23 billion, up 35.4 percent. No detailed breakdown of that business has been released.

Business with other countries and areas is growing faster, an analysis of China's customs figures shows.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations - Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei - saw its China business grow 47 percent to $8.1 billion in the first semester.

Trade with South Korea was up 47 percent in total to $7.3 billion, placing it sixth.

In fourth place was Taiwan, with total trade of $8.1 billion, an increase of 21 percent.