China's outbound investment more than doubled year-on-year in August to $12.62 billion, data showed Tuesday, far outstripping foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country, which dropped to a new multi-year low.
China has been actively acquiring foreign assets, particularly energy and resources, to power its economy.
Beijing has encouraged companies to "go out" and make overseas acquisitions to gain market access and international experience, and officials have said overseas direct investment (ODI) could exceed FDI this year.
The 112.1 percent increase in ODI announced by the commerce ministry was a dramatic contrast to the 14.0 percent year-on-year fall in FDI, which dropped to $7.20 billion. Both sets of figures exclude investment in financial sectors.
FDI was also less than July's $7.81 billion, which was the lowest since July 2012.
Commerce ministry spokesman Shen Danyang denied any link to Beijing's multiple probes into foreign companies.
Chinese authorities have in recent months launched anti-monopoly, pricing and other inquiries into scores of foreign firms in sectors ranging from auto manufacturing and pharmaceuticals to baby milk.
The investigations have raised concerns among investors that Beijing is targeting overseas companies.
But Shen denied any connection between the investigations and the fall in FDI. "They are not related," he said, declining to comment further.
For the first eight months of the year, China's ODI was up 15.3 percent to $65.17 billion.
In that period, investment into the EU soared by 257.1 percent, leaped 116.7 percent into Japan, and jumped 73.3 percent into Russia, the ministry said without giving totals.
It climbed 16.0 percent into the US, reaching $3.26 billion.
Ministry officials were unable to explain immediately the huge monthly increase.
Also in the first eight months, FDI was down 1.8 percent year-on-year to $78.34 billion.
It slumped 43.3 percent from Japan -- which is embroiled in territorial and historic rows with Beijing -- to $3.16 billion, fell 17.9 percent from the EU to $4.20 billion, and dropped 16.9 percent from the US to $2.08 billion.
But from South Korea -- which has been enjoying closer diplomatic ties with China -- it climbed 31.3 percent to $3.02 billion, and from Britain it rose 18.9 percent to $850 million.
China's economy expanded 7.7 percent in 2013, the same as 2012 -- the worst pace since 7.6 percent in 1999.
Beijing's official growth target for this year is 7.5 percent, also the same as in 2013, while gross domestic product grew 7.4 percent in the first half of this year.