The Caixin services purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 41.4 in May from 36.2 in April.
In yet another sign of a global economic slowdown, China's services activity contracted for the third month in a row in May.
That points to a slow recovery ahead despite the easing of some Covid lockdowns in Shanghai and neighbouring cities, a private business survey showed on Monday.
The economic fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war has intensified, with already-disrupted global supply chains from the pandemic distorted further by the war on the edge of Europe.
That has pushed major central banks to position for aggressive monetary policy path and weighed on global economic activity.
What has not helped is the renewed restrictions imposed by China.
The Caixin services purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 41.4 in May from 36.2 in April, edging up slightly as authorities began to roll back some of the strict restrictions that have paralysed the financial city of Shanghai and roiled global supply chains.
However, the reading remained well below the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.
Analysts say weakness in the services sector, which accounts for about 60% of China's economy and half of the urban jobs, is likely to persist under the government's zero-Covid policy, with contact-intensive sectors such as hotels and restaurants bearing the brunt of the fallout.
An official survey last week also showed the services sector was still mired in contraction.
That points to more pain ahead for the global economy as the Russia-Ukraine war shows no signs of abating anytime soon.