|Malaysian Houses of Parliament. Flickr/Wojtek Gurak|
As I have commented before on this blog, the official FDI figure for China in Africa significantly understates the actual amount for a variety of reasons. It only represents FDI that it is officially reported to the government of China. Some private Chinese investors do not report FDI flows. China's official numbers miss FDI that passes through Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands and goes to many countries, including some in Africa. Chinese FDI statistics do not include investment in the financial sector. For example, China's $5.5 billion purchase of 20 percent of Standard Bank of South Africa is presumably not reflected in the cumulative figures for FDI to Africa. China has also made several large investments in companies located in countries outside Africa that have significant holdings in Africa. These investments would not appear in the cumulative figure for Africa.
This is a murky area. Nevertheless, I believe it is correct to conclude that as of the end of 2011 China had more cumulative FDI in Africa than either South Africa or Malaysia but not more than the UK, US, or France.