Chinese overseas investment rose to $80.2 billion in the first 11 months of 2013, the government announced Wednesday -- exceeding the entire total for last year.
Outbound investment calculated on the basis of deals closed rose 28.3 percent in January-November from the same period last year, the ministry of commerce said, topping the $77.2 billion recorded during all of 2012.
Investment to Russia surged 685 percent during the 11 month period, and also leaped 232.2 percent to the United States.
China has been actively acquiring foreign assets, particularly energy and resources, to power its fast expanding economy.
Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang explained the surge in investment to Russia by telling reporters there were "quite significant projects", without giving any specifics.
Russia's top oil producer Rosneft announced in October it had signed a memorandum with China's state-held CNPC creating the two nations' first joint venture for developing remote East Siberian fields. The value of the deal was unspecified.
CNPC in June also struck a deal to acquire a 20 percent stake in a liquefied natural gas project in the Russian Arctic known as the Yamal LNG.
"China currently is keen to invest abroad, leading to high investment growth rate," Shen said.
He added that in the future the ministry will "try as much as we can" to relax controls on outbound deals to "actively increase overseas investment by companies and individuals".
In September, shareholders of US pork giant Smithfield Foods agreed a $7.1 billion takeover by China's Shuanghui International, the biggest ever Chinese acquisition of a US company.
But an official told AFP that Beijing is cautious of announcing big-ticket overseas investments due to concerns about "over-interpretation" by the media.
The media "often link the deals to the government. But companies don't just listen to us -- they make their own decisions," he added.
Investment destined for Hong Kong and Japan fell 0.6 percent and 13.3 percent respectively.
The ministry also said that foreign investment into China rose 5.48 percent year-on-year in the first 11 months.
Foreign direct investment (FDI), which excludes financial sectors, totalled $105.5 billion for January-November, the ministry said.
For November alone FDI increased 2.35 percent year on year to $8.48 billion, it said.
Investment from the European Union jumped 17.36 percent to $6.8 billion during the January-November period from the year before, while that from the United States increased 8.6 percent to $3.2 billion.
Most investment into China comes from a group of 10 Asian countries and regions including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and Singapore. FDI from those economies rose 7.45 percent to $91.4 billion in the year to November.
The Shanghai Free Trade Zone, China's latest showcase of what it says is a commitment to further market reforms, had drawn 58 overseas companies with a registered capital of more than $610 million by the end of November, Shen said.
The government has said the zone, launched in late September, will have a range of favourable policies, including free convertibility of the Chinese currency on a trial basis.
"Foreign companies are very interested in the zone and they are enthusiastic to invest," Shen said.