The Chinese government appointed its first ambassador to ASEAN in late December 2008 with the full intention to upgrade its ties with the grouping.
China sees itself as being close in relations to ASEAN by virtue of the fact that it shares common boundaries with the region.
1991 was the faithful year when former FM Qian Qichen was invited to the opening ceremony of the 24th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and began the prelude to the Sino-ASEAN dialogue relations.
1997 was the second milestone when both sides decided to establish their partnership of good neighborliness and mutual trust oriented towards the 21st century.
Five years later in November 2002, ASEAN and China agreed to build up the "China-ASEAN Free Trade Area by 2010 with a market of approximately 1.9 billion Asian people.
In October 2003, China signed on to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia as its first Non-Southeast Asian nation.
Three years later, China commemorated in the city of Nanning of south China's Guangxi province the 15th Anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations.
China and ASEAN are placing premium on 11 priority areas - agriculture, information communication and human resources, mutual investment and the substantial development of the Mekong River Basin, as well as transportation, energy, culture, tourism, public healthcare and environment.
In terms of importance, China and ASEAN have become each other's fourth trade partner.
Both sides are hoping on common fronts to carry the relationship to the next level, having co-survived the Asian financial crisis in 1997, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, and the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2005.
Needless to say, the main challenge now is the global financial crisis. In this area, officials, experts and business people attending the 5th China-ASEAN Expo have agreed that cooperation is important to help China and ASEAN countries cope with the negative impacts of the global financial crisis.
Balita Philippines, "China, ASEAN to cooperate in tackling financial crisis" dated 27 October 2008 in the Balita website [downloaded on 16 Feb 2009], available athttp://balita.ph/2008/10/27/china-asean-to-cooperate-in-tackling-financi...
Xue, Hanqin, "China-ASEAN relationship goes on deepening" dated 15 January 2009 in the People's Daily website [downloaded on 16 Feb 2009], available athttp://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90780/91342/6574949.html