Leaders from China and five neighboring Southeast Asian countries are meeting in a southern Chinese resort city this week amid wariness but also hope for greater regional cooperation.

The inaugural Lancang-Mekong Cooperation meeting has been framed by the Chinese and Thai co-hosts as a chance to deepen ties and cut trade deals in a fast-growing region.

Southeast Asia represents a key market under a sweeping Chinese strategy to boost trade and foreign investment called "One Belt, One Road." China has wooed the region with eye-catching projects including a textile-making hub in Cambodia, a deep sea port in Myanmar and new railways in Thailand.

But several countries have expressed concern about their giant neighbor's rise, including Vietnam, which has competing maritime claims in the South China Sea.