China's annual foreign direct investment outflows declined in 2017 for the first time on record, according to a government report released Friday.
The drop came as leaders of the world's two largest economies increased scrutiny on cross-border deals, following a surge of Chinese investments in the U.S. — which included the high-profile purchase of New York's landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel by Chinese insurer Anbang in 2015.
Beijing would like to stem capital flight, while the Trump administration is citing national security reasons for slowing or preventing Chinese acquisitions of U.S. companies.
Last year, China's annual outward direct investment dropped 19.3 percent to $158.29 billion, from $196.15 billion in 2016, according to government statistics. That marked the first decline recorded in data going back to 2002, according to the report from China's Ministry of Commerce, National Bureau of Statistics and State Administration of Foreign Exchange.
Figures from 2002 to 2005 include only non-financial outward foreign direct investment, while numbers from 2006 onward include all industries.
Chinese investments in the U.S. was $6.43 billion in 2017 — down 62.1 percent from a year ago, the report showed.
In contrast, flows to Europe rose to a record $18.46 billion in 2017, or 72.7 percent higher than a year ago, the report said.