The Chinese premier will seek to carve out a spot for Australia on Beijing's new silk road map - a mammoth infrastructure building plan - during his official visit.

Li Keqiang and his wife will arrive in Canberra late on Wednesday night and will be accompanied by a business delegation.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will host a special lunch for Mr Li in the Great Hall at Parliament House on Thursday before bilateral talks on Friday.

Mr Turnbull flagged that the pair will announce the next stage of the China-Australia free trade agreement.

Cattle producers are hopeful there could be greater access for Australian chilled beef to the Chinese market.

The leaders will also discuss the progress of the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations that includes south-east Asian countries, India and Japan, but excludes the US.

Since US withdrawal killed off the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement the free trade agenda has turned to RCEP for hope.

Tensions in the South China Sea, the North Korea nuclear threat and US President Donald Trump will be among some of the strategic issues canvassed in the leaders’ meeting.

“At our annual leaders’ meeting, we will speak frankly and constructively about maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” Mr Turnbull said in a statement.

Mr Turnbull is likely to inquire about the legal fate of the 14 Crown employees arrested and detained for five months without charge.

China is also likely to seek progress on an extradition treaty, which is facing parliamentary delays in Australia, in order to bolster its efforts to crack down on corrupt officials who have fled.

Australia and Beijing have been in talks since October on an agreement to link China’s new silk road initiative – known as One Belt, One Road – with the federal government’s strategy to unlock the potential of northern Australia with major infrastructure projects.

One Belt, One Road, is China’s ambitious plan for infrastructure building projects such as ports and railways across under-developed regions from Central Asia up to Europe and across south-east Asia and the coast of Africa.

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang told reporters on Tuesday in Beijing there are “many opportunities and space for co-operation” between China and Australia under the One Belt, One Road plan, a subject he said Mr Li would bring up on his Australia visit.

“I believe these discussions will have positive results,” Mr Zheng said.

It won’t be all work and no play for the leaders.

Mr Li and Mr Turnbull will watch the Sydney Swans take on Port Adelaide in Sydney on the weekend.

The AFL will stage a match between Port and the Gold Coast in Shanghai in May.

Mr Li last visited Australia in 2009 as vice-premier.

By Lisa Martin