China broke the curse of the Asian Cup in emphatic style on Tuesday when they thrashed lowly Malaysia 5-1 to become the first favoured team to win so far in the competition.
Han Peng and Wang Dong both grabbed doubles and Shao Jiayi was also on target as the 2004 runners-up took an early lead in Group C, sending a message to their title rivals and boosting embattled coach Zhu Guanghu.
Favourites Australia and defending champions Japan have both failed to overcome unfancied sides while there have been upset wins for Indonesia and Vietnam in the first round of matches.
China accelerated from a pedestrian start on 15 minutes when midfielder Shao unlocked the Malaysian defence with a through-ball to Wang Dong, whose chipped cross to the far post was headed in by the unmarked Han.
Shao was on hand 21 minutes later to steer home captain Zheng Zhi's cross from the left which was narrowly missed by the diving Han.
Changchun Yatai midfielder Wang Dong put it beyond doubt shortly after the break with a deflected shot which bounced through Fauzie Nan's legs and trickled into the bottom corner.
Shandong Luneng striker Han grabbed his second on 55 minutes when he met a diagonal cross from the left first-time before Wang rounded off the scoring with a looping header in injury time.
Malaysia's chief threat was from free-kicks and corners but Hardi Jaafar's delivery was usually lacking and the co-hosts' strikers were out-muscled by the Chinese defence.
Shukor Adan had an ambitious lob from distance palmed away on the hour-mark in a rare chance for the co-hosts in front of a disappointing National Stadium crowd.
But Malaysian substitute Indra Putra raised the biggest cheer of the night when he buried his right-footed strike from 30 yards with 17 minutes to go, triggering a spell of pressure.
China are bidding to win their first ever Asian Cup after losing the 2004 final against Japan. But they have been unimpressive since and coach Zhu is under orders to reach the last four "or else."
Malaysia have slumped since their heyday in the 1970s and, with a FIFA ranking of 149, carry the unwanted tag of the tournament's lowest-rated team.
Regional powerhouses Iran play Uzbekistan in Group C's second match on Wednesday.