In recent years, in line with China's Going Out strategy announced in 2000, China's overseas investment activities have increased greatly and at increasing rates. By the end of 2009, the total value of China's outward foreign direct investment had reached US$5.6 billion. Policies have played strong supporting roles in bringing about this trend by facilitating and encouraging Chinese companies to make overseas investments. This working paper summarises these policies based on an analysis of policy changes over time and identifies the main drivers of these changes. It also highlights some key research questions of relevance to deepening understanding of the impacts of Chinese trade and investment in Africa. The project ‘Chinese trade and investment in Africa: Assessing and governing trade-offs to national economies, local livelihoods and forest ecosystems' project, launched in March 2010, aims to advance understanding of the social, economic and environmental impacts of Chinese investment in commodities or sectors affecting forests and livelihoods in Africa (e.g. timber, mining, agriculture), and to strengthen the capacity of decision-makers in government, civil society and the private sector to enact reforms to maximise social and economic benefits while minimising adverse effects.