For more than a decade,
Less noticed, until recently, has been
But the study also noted that the pace of investment has been picking up, climbing to US$16 billion in 2006, or nearly 30% more than the previous year. That is starting to show in the FDI statistics in neighbouring Asian countries.
That thirst has taken Chinese companies to mineral-rich
The quest for energy has also taken Chinese state investors to countries with less-savoury governments such as
The recent international furore over the
Chinese companies are studying plans to invest billions of dollars in a pipeline from Sittwe, in western
The huge field has the potential to generate about $12 billion to $15 billion for
That could be enough to keep them in power for another decade or two.
The 1,200-megawatt project, expected to sell its output to
Chinese companies have also invested in hydroelectric projects in neighbouring
Unlike the hunt for petroleum, the hydroelectric investments are export-oriented, and perhaps driven by employment considerations.
What this country needs to do is attract some of the multinational companies that are forced to have high environmental and social standards by their shareholders, said forest engineer Peter Fogde, a Swedish director of the Burapha Group in
''Coming from Sweden you have social-environment issues built into you when you are born,'' said Mr Fogde, who warned that huge tracts of land being given as concessions for rubber plantations to Chinese and Vietnamese investors will cause massive erosion of topsoil.
But not all Chinese investment is as environmentally or politically dangerous. Chinese investors are supplying cheap motorcycles to
A Chinese company has also announced plans to set up the first cement plant in
And in Thailand, the Chinese projects approved this year include one to produce 5,000 tonnes of candles annually, and the Chinese-Thai Fusen Angell Motor company's plan to produce 55,000 electric cars.