Now, as China's once-red-hot domestic economy slows down, the government and Chinese state-owned companies have stepped up a heavy flow of investment in a wide range of new ventures around the world.
There's little reason to believe that this week's currency devaluation will slow China's investment around the world, which just topped $1 trillion over the last decade, according to data collected by the American Enterprise Institute.
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The flow of outbound investment from China to the rest of the world is growing faster than the foreign direct investment coming in. In the first five months of this year, China's outbound direct investment surged to nearly $45 billion, according to Reuters, approaching the level of foreign direct investment inflows. Outbound investment jumped by 47 percent in the same period, while inbound grew by 11 percent from a year earlier.
With a massive, upwardly mobile population, China was once seen by the developed world as a massive marketing opportunity for a wide range of products—from industrial equipment to luxury handbags. But the long-expected slowing of China's economic growth has dampened the enthusiasm of some foreign investors. The recent plunge in China's stock market has prompted further caution.
China's economic slowdown has also prompted Chinese companies to widen their search for the best rates of return on their investment. And many see greater opportunities outside their country than they do at home.