General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) plans introduce more than 20 new and upgraded models over the next two years in China, saying the country plays an important role in the automaker's global strategy.

GM, which is the largest overseas automaker in China, said it will continue investing aggressively in the country to ensure its long-term success. The company traces its roots back to 1908.

In 2010, GM and its joint ventures sold 2.35 million vehicles in China.

The Detroit-based auto giant has been the sales leader among global automakers in China for six consecutive years.

GM's success in China is the result of our strategic approach to doing business in this country, said chief executive Dan Akerson during a media briefing today in Beijing. This approach has enabled GM to remain the sales leader among global automakers in China for the past six years.

GM's largest national market is China, followed by the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Italy, Russia, Mexico, and Uzbekistan.

Akerson said: China is clearly a crown jewel in the GM universe. China is a unique market sitting in what I think is the highest growth area in the world for the next 10, 20, 30 years in Asia. GM will continue to make China one of our priorities.

The old GM was burdened with so much debt, they had to cut back on funding of new product, new research and development during the down cycle because they had such a heavy debt load. We're not going to make that mistake again,Akerson said.

Akerson reinforced the importance of GM's local relationships. We regard our 11 domestic joint ventures as 11 keys to our success in China, he said. GM has 11 joint ventures in China with two of its primary local partners, SAIC Motor Corp. and FAW Group Corp.

GM, which completed its IPO last year, sold a total of 268,071 vehicles in January in China, up 22.3 percent from the year-ago period.
Passenger cars accounted to 131,944 units, up 46.3 percent. GM ended January with an estimated market share of 14.7 percent in China.

Shares of GM are trading 0.25 percent lower at $36.18 at 09:35 am EST Tuesday on the NYSE.