According to Professor Yiping Huang of Peking University, writing in the September 2012 issue of East Asia Forum, what we have seen to date is only the beginning:
Chinese outward direct investment is a relatively new phenomenon. In 2002, the first year after China's accession to the World Trade Organization, China's total ODI [outward direct investment] was less than US$3 billion. By 2010, however, it had already increased to more than 20 times this amount. According to forecasts by economists at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, if China does liberalize its capital account, Chinese ODI stock could rise from US$310 billion in 2010 to US$5.3 trillion by 2020. If this prediction turns out to be correct, then China may well become the world's largest outward direct investor by this time.To put this enormous number in context: US$5.3 trillion in overseas direct investment by China during the next seven years is roughly equal to the last three years' worth of private nonresidential fixed investment in the United States. Not all of this will acquire technology, to be sure. There isn't $5 trillion of tech companies worth buying. A great deal of China's foreign investment will reflect portfolio diversification by individual Chinese, who still cannot acquire foreign assets directly, and much of it will buy raw materials.
And China's youth are keeping up with their country's economic growth.
...In 2008, I observed that 35 million young Chinese were studying classical piano, not counting the string players, and almost entirely with private tuition. "The world's largest country," I wrote, "is well along the way to forming an intellectual elite on a scale that the world has never seen, and against which nothing in today's world - surely not the overbred products of the Ivy League puppy mills - can compete. Few of its piano students will earn a living at the keyboard, to be sure, but many of the 36 million will become much better scientists, engineers, physicians, businessmen and military officers."