Official figures show a decline in Chinese manufacturing as the country's purchasing managers' index dropped from 50.2 in June to 50.1 in July.
The slight decline defied attempt by the Chinese government to curtail signs of slow down in the world’s largest economy.
The PMI figures, though still above the all import 50 which delineates growth from contraction, show that factories in China are making a slow start to the second half of the year.
Analysts, who had predicted a slight increase in manufacturing activity in response to cuts in interest rates and government pressure on banks to lend more, were surprised.
Overall, the Chinese economy saw its slowest growth since the depths of the financial crisis in the second quarter of 2012.
This rate of growth however, still belittles Western economies, at 7.6%.