Chinese manufacturing has contracted for the third month in a row, according to the government's latest factory survey.
The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) showed a reading of 49.8 for October, unchanged from last month.
A figure below 50 indicates that factory activity contracted.
The most recent growth figures showed the country's economy growing at a rate of 6.9%, the weakest rate since the financial crisis.
It has been hit by a stock market slump and a global slowdown in demand.
Economists had expected October's PMI to show a pick-up to a reading of 50.
"Because of the recent weak recovery in the global economy and downward pressure in the domestic economy, manufacturers still face a severe import and export situation," said Zhao Qinghe, a senior statistician at China's National Bureau of Statistics in a statement.
The government is trying to move away from being an export-led economy to a more consumer and services-led one.
It has been taking action to try to spur growth, including cutting interest rates five times so far this year.
Economists at ANZ Bank said the latest PMI survey indicated there could be further measures to come.
"While the PMI has stabilised, it is too early to confirm a bottoming out," ANZ Bank said.