Beijing issued a statement earlier this month encouraging Chinese firms to invest in foreign markets. This marked a change in tone from discouraging talk from Premier Wen Jiabao and other leaders this year, who questioned the advisability of snapping up overseas assets, no matter how cheap, given the unstable situation – although a wide exception for acquisitions of natural resources was made. It’s never clear how much actual influence these sorts of statements have on Chinese firms (note that the pessimism had no apparent effect on Beijing’s appetite for US Treasuries), but greasing the bureaucratic wheels unquestionably helps. Yesterday the State Council announced that it plans to deepen the structural reform of the Chinese economy, which has become "inefficient." This word is usually code for "state-owned," and this case is no exception. The government said it will allow more private investment in state-dominated pillar industries like oil and power – which incidentally dominate the value portion of outbound investment deals – and published new details on how it plans to ease the application process for outbound investors. On the same day, a group of Chinese investors announced plans to buy a piece of the Cleveland Cavaliers, an American professional basketball team. China’s largest internet company Shanda Interactive Entertainment said it has applied to list its online gaming division in the US. Coincidence or causality? Probably the former. But it is interesting to note that like so much Chinese outbound investment in the past, the goals of both new ventures remain fundamentally domestic. The Cavaliers look to expand their Chinese fan base, and Shanda is raising money in the US to compete with Chinese online game giants like NetEase and Sohu’s Changyou.