SEJONG, South Korea's finance minister left for Beijing Thursday to attend an international conference on China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, the finance ministry said.

The initiative is a grand geopolitical strategy to connect China with Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Europe and Africa through "land and maritime silk roads."

Hong Nam-ki, the minister of economy and finance, is scheduled to make a case for boosting cooperation with China during the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, to be held in the Chinese capital on Friday and Saturday.

The forum is expected to bring together leaders from 37 countries and ministers from about 100 countries.

On the sidelines of the forum, Hong plans to hold separate meetings with Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, Jin Liqun, president of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and British finance minister Philip Hammond.

South Korea joined the multinational lender set up in 2015 to fund infrastructure projects in Asia as one of 57 founding members.

The AIIB is widely viewed as a potential counterbalance to U.S.-led multilateral lenders, such as the Asian Development Bank, amid growing Chinese economic clout.

Source: Yonhap news Agency