China's overseas direct investment (ODI) surged in February as a state-owned oil company spent nearly $3 billion on a Dutch acquisition, official data showed Tuesday, while inbound investment slowed.
ODI jumped 68.2 percent to $7.25 billion, the commerce ministry said, while for the first two months of the year it rose 51 percent to $17.4 billion.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) into China, meanwhile, rose 0.9 percent year-on-year to $8.56 billion, the ministry said. That marked a sharp slowdown from January's 29.4 percent gain.
Both ODI and FDI exclude financial sectors.
China drew a total of $119.6 billion worth of FDI in 2014, while ODI surged to $102.9 billion, passing the $100 billion for the first time as Chinese companies look for opportunities abroad while economic growth at home slows.
The surge in ODI was driven by a tenfold increase in investment in the European Union to $3.36 billion, largely due to oil company PetroChina pumping $2.89 billion into the Netherlands, officials said without giving details.
China has been actively acquiring foreign assets, particularly energy and resources, to power its economy, with firms encouraged to "go out" and make overseas acquisitions for market access and international experience.
"Investments from major countries and regions remain generally stable," the ministry said in a statement.
The world's second-largest economy expanded 7.4 percent last year, the slowest since 1990, as authorities seek to transform the country's growth model to one in which consumer spending takes over as the key engine as expansions slow and become more sustainable.
China's appeal as an investment destination has also been declining in recent years owing to rising labour and land costs and competition from Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam.
Authorities have mounted probes into alleged monopolistic practices, pricing and other activities of foreign firms.
Investigations have focused on sectors ranging from auto manufacturing and pharmaceuticals to baby milk, fuelling fears Beijing is targeting them, a charge the commerce ministry has repeatedly denied.
Officials have also blamed source country factors, such as Washington's drive to move industrial production back to the United States.