The HSBC PMI for manufacturing in the country rose from 50.1 in August, just above the neutral reading of 50, to 50.2 in September, Markit said.
The index was "broadly unchanged," Markit said, indicating that "conditions improved fractionally" month to month.
Markit said new business from abroad increased "albeit marginally -- with panelists citing stronger demand from client bases in Europe and the United States."
There was a "modest" gain in backlogged orders, which is generally a positive sign for employment, as it means there is work to be done. For the September, however, employment remained in decline.
In addition, "stronger demand for production materials led to a renewed deterioration of vendor performance," Markit reported.
Manufacturers in China are looking at higher prices. In the monthly survey, 14 percent of respondents indicated higher prices for production materials, which prompted a second consecutive month of factories raising prices for customers. "However, the rate of increase was below trend and only modest," Markit said.