Musk’s Tesla Open to Expansion in China – State Department

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday after a meeting between the two that Tesla Inc. (TSLA.O) CEO Elon Musk told Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Gang that he was willing to expand business in the country. in Beijing.

The meeting came hours after Musk arrived in Beijing on an unannounced trip, his first in more than three years, during which he is expected to meet senior Chinese officials and visit the Tesla factory in Shanghai.

Musk also told Chen at the meeting that he opposes decoupling the US and Chinese economies, according to a statement from China’s foreign ministry.

He was quoted as saying that “the interests of the United States and China are intertwined, like conjoined twins, and are inseparable from each other.”

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on Musk’s flight, itinerary, or notes attributed to him.

Musk, who also owns Twitter, has been quiet on the platform after arriving in China, where Twitter is blocked but some users can access it through a virtual private network.

Chen told Musk that China is committed to improving the business environment for investors, including Tesla, and used a complex leadership metaphor to describe the Sino-American relationship.

“We should brake in time, avoid dangerous driving and be skillful with the accelerator,” the ministry quoted Chen as saying.

It was not clear who Musk would meet in the Chinese government or what issues they would discuss.

Reuters reported in March that Musk was planning a trip to China and seeking to meet with Chinese Premier Li Qiang.

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Le jet privé emprunté par Elon Musk, PDG de Tesla, à l’aéroport international de Pékin. / PHOTO AWARD May 30, 2023 / Reuters / Tingshu Wang

On a trip to China in 2019, Musk met then-Prime Minister Li Keqiang. A year later, he caused a stir on Chinese social media for dancing on stage to celebrate the opening of the Tesla factory in Shanghai.

Increased competition for Tesla

This week’s trip comes as Tesla faces stiff competition from electric cars made in China and some uncertainty about expansion plans for the Shanghai factory complex that Musk last visited in early 2020.

China is Tesla’s second largest market after the United States, and the Shanghai plant is the electric carmaker’s largest production hub.

Tesla investors have wondered if and to what extent the electric car maker will increase production in Shanghai.

Another issue is whether Chinese regulators will clear the release of Tesla’s advanced driver-assist features that are available in other markets as part of its “Full Self Driving” program, which it sells for $15,000 per vehicle.

Chinese researchers have closely watched Musk’s space company, SpaceX, and the military applications of its Starlink satellite network since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Chinese state-owned companies are rushing to follow Starlink by launching their own communications satellites into low Earth orbit. Chinese military researchers have studied the Starlink system as a potentially threatening technology, according to research reviewed by Reuters.

While his plane was en route to China, Musk tweeted about developments in China’s space program, which aims to land a crew on the moon before 2030.

“The Chinese space program is much more advanced than most people realise,” he said.

Additional reporting by Tingshu Wang and Josh Arslan in Beijing and Zhang Yan in Shanghai; Written by Brenda Goh. Editing by Kevin Krolicki, Edwina Gibbs and Emilia Sithole-Matares

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