China, seeking other markets for its goods, turned to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In 2008, Aseans gross domestic product exceeded US$1.5 trillion, and the association became one of the worlds major economic powers.
Aseans foreign trade with China increased from less than $8 billion in 1991 to $2.1 trillion in 2009, accounting for 9.7% of Chinas total import and export value.
Asean is now Chinas fourth-largest trading partner after the EU, the US and Japan, while China is Aseans third-largest trading partner.In addition, China is a hot destination for investors from Asean member nations, especially Singapore. In the first 10 months of 2009, Singapores direct investment in China reached $3 billion, accounting for 12.7% of Chinas total investment from foreign countries excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan, second only to Japan.Asean is also one of the key destinations for Chinas overseas investment excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan. In 2008, Chinas direct investment in Asean countries accounted for 11.4% of its total overseas investment, a proportion higher than that of the EU, the US or Japan.