China unexpectedly posted its first trade gap in three years in February as a construction boom pushed imports much higher than expected and as increasing US protectionist rhetoric casts a spotlight on the export giant’s trade position. The upbeat import reading reinforced the growing view that economic activity in China picked up in the first two months of the year, adding to a global manufacturing revival. According to Reuters, that could give China’s policymakers more confidence to press ahead this year with oft-delayed and painful structural reforms such as tackling a rapid build-up in debt. China’s imports surged 38.1% from a year earlier, the biggest increase since February 2012, official data showed on Wednesday, while exports unexpectedly fell 1.3%. That left the country with a trade deficit of $9.15 billion for the month, the General Administration of Customs said.