China's inflation slowed to 2.1 percent in May year-on-year from 2.4 percent in April, official data showed.
The consumer price index -- a main gauge of inflation -- decreased 0.6 percent month-on-month last month, compared with a gain of 0.2 percent in the previous month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement.
The year-on-year figure for May compared with a forecast of a 2.5 percent increase in a median forecast of 14 economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.
China, the world's second-largest economy, has set its inflation target for this year at 3.5 percent, higher than the actual inflation rate 2.6 percent last year.
Analysts had expected the economy, which grew at its slowest pace in 13 years in 2012, to experience a pick-up this year, though figures so far have been disappointing.
On Saturday, China reported a sharp slowdown in exports in May from April, while imports unexpectedly dropped, amid weakness in the domestic economy and sluggish demand overseas.