According to China's General Administration of Customs, imports grew by 17.7% in United States dollar terms, above the 17.2% increase of October and forecasts for a smaller gain of 11.3%.
Export growth also beat, lifting by 12.3% over the same period in United States dollar terms, a sharp improvement on the 6.9% level of October and forecasts for an increase of 5%.
China's imports in November were up 17.7% from a year earlier, slightly ahead of October's 17.2% pace, driven by rising commodities costs and domestic demand.
China's imports have been growing at a double-digit pace since January, but economists said the rise may not last. The surplus was forecast to fall to USD35.0 billion from about USD38.2 billion in October.
They're opposed to giving China market economy status, which would make it harder for them to win anti-dumping cases against Beijing for exporting goods at improperly low prices.
Some of China's northern provinces have ordered factories to throttle back or halt output to reduce notoriously thick winter smog.
Customs is expected to release dollar-denominated trade data later on Friday.
China's natural gas imports in November rose to a record as domestic demand surged while crude imports were the second-highest ever, as refiners ramped up output to cash in on strong profits as fuel prices soar.
Total arrivals for the first 11 months climbed 6 percent to 990.73 million tonnes from 935.08 million tonnes a year ago.
Iron ore imports also lifted, jumping to 94.54 million tonnes from 79.49 million tonnes in October.
The trade surplus, a source of tension with major trade partners, came in at $40.2 billion, down from $43.1 billion a year earlier but more than the median projection of $35 billion.
Iron traders started stockpiling product as prices fell last month in anticipation of stronger demand after the winter months, traders and analysts said.
However, the economist said he is sceptical that the strength of imports can be sustained given that the delayed impact of policy tightening and a cooling property market are set to weigh on Chinese demand for commodities in coming quarters.