China is ASEAN's biggest trading partner with bilateral trade of $292 billion in 2010

ASEAN and the Peoples Republic of China mark the 20th anniversary of their dialogue this year with China now the South East Asian group's largest trading partner. Bilateral trade reached $292 billion in 2010, growing from less than $8 billion in 1990.

According to Luo Yongkun, a researcher on Southeast Asian studies with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, the potential for trade and investment between China and ASEAN is yet to be realised, particularly in the sectors of infrastructure and nuclear power.

China has started a series of initiatives to assist ASEAN financially in recent years, including a $10 billion China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund established in 2009. Loans under the investment fund will be offered over three to five years with the aim of financing major investment cooperation projects in infrastructure, energy and construction in ASEAN members. ASEAN members have shown an interest in developing nuclear power, while China has cutting-edge technologies to offer, Luo told China Daily.

Construction of a high-speed railway from Nanning, the capital of southern China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, to Singapore through Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia will begin this year, boosting to trade between China and South East Asia, according to Xinhua News Agency.