A report Friday in China's official news agency Xinhua said China has encouraged its companies since 2000 to invest overseas.
Zhang Yansheng at the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planning agency, said overseas investment surged 40.8 percent annually from 2006 to 2010, compared to 9.6-percent annual growth of foreign direct investment in China during the same period.
Recent overseas investments include the $15.1 billion agreement by China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) to buy Canada's Nexen Inc., and Sinopec Group's plans to acquire a 49-percent stake in Talisman Energy's operations in the North Sea for $1.5 billion. The group is the parent of China's top oil refiner Sinopec Corp.
China's "go global" strategy is part of the official 12th Five-year Plan (2011-2015), Xinhua said.
"The scale of China's overseas direct investment would catch up with its FDI, or become even larger, on the back of the government's stance to step up implementing its go-global strategy," Zhang said.
Xinhua quoted a report in March by the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group as saying major Chinese multinational companies are making active efforts to engage in corporate citizenship as they expand into the global market. Chinese multinationals employed around 1 million people in 2010, 71 percent of them local citizens, the report said.
"Overseas investment by Chinese companies will witness a round of explosive growth in the next 10 years, because it is a general trend for Chinese companies to invest overseas," said Zhang Monan, an analyst at the Economic Forecasting Department of the State Information Center.
She said Chinese companies will divert their focus from goods export to capital export, noting the latter currently remains small compared with goods exports.