Foreign Ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), their representatives and ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan inspected the Kunming-Bangkok highway on Jan. 24.

The 1,750-km-long road linking Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan province, to Bangkok lays a solid foundation for the China-ASEAN free trade zone.

The journey was made only one day ahead of a meeting between the ASEAN and Chinese foreign ministers on Jan. 25. The meeting kicks off a series of events to mark the China-ASEAN Friendship and Exchange Year.

Connectivity on the Kunming-Bangkok is expected to be discussed at the meeting.

ASEAN and China started their dialogue in 1991. The two sides established "a strategic partnership for peace and prosperity" in 2003.

The China-ASEAN Free Trade Area took effect last January, opening up a combined market of 1.9 billion people.

China is ASEAN's biggest trade partner and ASEAN is China's fourth. Two-way trade between the two sides reached to over 292.78 billion USD in 2010./.