Sheng Jiapeng | CNSPHOTO | VCG | Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit Daci’en Temple on May 14, 2015 in Xi’an, China.

If you go by official Indian government figures, Chinese direct investments into the country this century hit a paltry $1.6 billion in March 2017.

That’s a weak showing compared to President Xi Jinping’s 2014 promise to spend $20 billion over five years in India, one of the fastest growing Asian economies.

But while there’s yet to be big bang investments accompanied by political fanfare, the Chinese have steadily and quietly been investing in Indian companies over the past few years.

In fact, people in India who work closely with Chinese businesses estimate that China’s investments into the country could be at least five times greater than official numbers.

“Chinese investments have doubled in the last two years. I have no reason to doubt that it will not continue as they have already tasted blood. If you are a Chinese company today with a limitless amount of capital and you look at the whole world and ask ‘where is the big bet you can play?’ the answer is India,” said Santosh Pai, a partner at Link Legal, a law firm with offices throughout India.

For his firm, Chinese clients are the growth drivers, and since 2011 he has helped about 150 of them get a foothold in the Indian market.

Typically, investments come in from Chinese-owned companies based in the U.S., Singapore or elsewhere in the world, and therefore cannot be classified as “Chinese” investments. Also, official data only tracks investments made by companies based in mainland China and not even those out of Hong Kong and Macau, experts said.

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