Justin Trudeau says China should strengthen its connection to Canada as a way for the rapidly growing superpower to burnish its image on the world stage.

Speaking to powerful Chinese businessmen in Beijing, the prime minister said he intends to make real progress on a renewed relationship between the two countries.

He also said Canada can play a key role in dealing with anxiety around the world about trade and China, in general.

Trudeau says Canada can help ease these concerns by deepening its business partnerships with China and by helping the Asian country with governance and rule-of-law issues.

He delivered a speech and answered nearly an hour's worth questions from Alibaba founder Jack Ma and members of the China Entrepreneur Club at the first event of his official visit to China.

In response to a question, he also said Canada is looking very favourably at the possibility of joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, in part because the Liberal government believes very much in infrastructure investments.

On Wednesday in Beijing, Finance Minister Bill Morneau will meet with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank president Jin Liqun.

Trudeau is scheduled to hold meetings Wednesday with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.