Foreign direct investment in China, the world's fastest-growing major economy, climbed 7.7 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier.

Investment rose to $23.44bn, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement released ahead of a press briefing in Beijing.

Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, that China's growth may have quickened to 11.7 per cent in the first quarter, the fastest pace in almost three years.

Investors may also be betting on the likelihood of the Chinese currency strengthening as the government weighs whether to scrap the yuan's 21-month-old peg to the dollar.

'China will continue to attract foreign investment as the nation's growth outpaces the rest of the world,' said Lu Zhengwei, a Shanghai-based economist at Industrial Bank Company, 'Investment may have increased partly due to inflows of capital betting on the yuan's gain.'

Poised to overtake Japan as the world's second-largest economy this year, China in 2009 replaced the United States as the world's largest auto market.

Companies from liquid-crystal display maker LG Display Company to General Motors Company are expanding in China as a $585bn stimulus package, soaring credit and subsidies for consumer spending spur consumption.

LG Display and two Chinese partners, including Skyworth Digital Holdings Limited, will form a venture investing $4bn to make LCDs, according to the companies' stock-exchange filings last month. GM, the largest foreign automaker in China, aims to sell three million vehicles a year in the Asian nation by 2015 by adding new models, the company said on April 12. China is GM's biggest market in terms of vehicle sales so far this year.

Still, a growing number of foreign companies in China plan to relocate plants inland or outside the country because of rising labor and logistics costs, a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai showed last month.

The proportion of companies with such plans doubled last year compared with 2008, the organization said, citing a survey of 202 foreign-invested manufacturers in China that have a combined 1,500 plants.