Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 unveiled an ambitious economic and foreign policy - the "Silk Road Economic Belt" and "21st Century Maritime Silk Road".
China wants to revive an ancient network of silk land and ocean trade routes of centuries past. It's instigating an infrastructure building boom across Central Asia up to Europe to help boost trade and improve transport logistics. The land-based projects are the belt. Various economic corridors are on the cards too, including with Pakistan, Mongolia and Bangladesh.
The maritime road which will connect up China's southern provinces to south-east Asia and the east coast of Africa with ports and railways.
Beijing is seeking to exercise some regional leadership.
China wants to make the Renminbi the main trade and investment currency in countries involved.
It needs to channel "excess capacity" somewhere.
It's about standard setting. China wants to shift from lower level manufacturing to higher end industrial goods. It believes emerging markets in its neighbourhood will be more willing to accept Chinese-made high speed rail, energy generators and telecommunications equipment compared to more developed countries.
China is also trying to close the inequality gap between inland western provinces and its wealthy eastern seaboard.
As the US seeks an "American First" agenda, many countries are rushing to be part of China's big plans.
One Belt One Road has $US1.3 trillion worth of projects already initiated under the banner.
It's more than seven times larger than America's Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after the Second World War.
Countries involved: 65
Total population reach 4.4 billion and share of global economy 30 per cent.
China has earmarked $US40 billion ($A54 billion) for a special fund, this is on top of the $US100 billion capitalisation of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, which will have projects involved.
It will fill gaps in infrastructure projects for developing countries ie. Afghanistan and Pakistan see it as a "path out of poverty".
Increased trade and faster transit of goods.
Lack of trust between China and some countries involved.
Two out of three countries involved have a sovereign credit rating below investment grade.
Some countries are unstable, which poses security risks to Chinese companies and workers.
Some Chinese bankers are worried about the risks of investing, such as feasibility of some projects and political instability.
Critics fear China is seeking economic and strategic domination, and human rights and environmental standards could be undermined.
There's concerns poor countries could be left laden with massive debts.
It's unclear who is in charge of One Belt One Road.
In Sri Lanka there have been protests against some of the projects.
India is upset the $US57 billion China-Pakistan economic corridor runs through disputed Kashmir, saying it violates its sovereignty.
WHO'S WENT TO THE MAY 14-15 SUMMIT?
28 heads of state and government have confirmed attendance including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Myanmar's defacto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama. There will also be leaders from parts of Europe, Africa, Middle East and South America.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR AUSTRALIA
Even though Australia isn't geographically located on the Belt and Road the initiative potentially aligns with the federal government's plans for developing northern Australia.
There could be opportunities for Australian industries such as engineering, architecture and finance.
There could be scope for Australia to increase investment in China and or third countries.
(Sources: Chinese government, Lowy Institute Peter Cai report, BHP briefing, PwC, APH Library, The Economist and Reuters )