This is part of China's push to increase global clout — building modern infrastructure can attract more investment and trade along the "One Belt, One Road" route. It could be beneficial for western China, which is less developed, as it links up with neighboring countries. And in the long run, it will help China shore up access to energy resources.
The policy could boost the domestic economy with demand abroad, and might also soak up some of the overcapacity in China's heavy industry, but analysts say these are fringe benefits.
Experts say China has an opportunity to step into a global leadership role, one that the U.S. previously filled and may now be abandoning, especially after President Donald Trump pulled out of a major trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
It's clear China wants to wield greater influence — Xi's speech in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos touted the benefits of globalization, and called for international cooperation. And an article by Premier Li Keqiang published shortly after also called for economic openness.
But despite all the talk of global connectivity, skeptics highlight that China still restricts foreign investment, censorship continues to be an issue and concerns remain over human rights.