BEIJING (Reuters) -Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk told Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang on Tuesday that he was willing to expand business in the country, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Tuesday after a meeting between the two in Beijing. The meeting came hours after Musk arrived in Beijing on an unannounced trip, his first […]
Tesla’s Musk open to expanding in China – foreign ministry
BEIJING (Reuters) -Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk told Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang on Tuesday that he was willing to expand business in the country, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Tuesday after a meeting between the two in Beijing.
The meeting came hours after Musk arrived in Beijing on an unannounced trip, his first to the country in more than three years, during which he is expected to meet senior Chinese officials and visit Tesla’s Shanghai plant.
Musk also told Qin in the meeting that he opposed a decoupling of the U.S. and Chinese economies, according to a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry.
“The interests of the United States and China are intertwined, like conjoined twins, inseparable from each other,” he was quoted as saying.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on Musk’s trip, his itinerary or the remarks attributed to him.
Musk, who also owns Twitter, was quiet on the platform after arriving in China, where Twitter is banned but accessible to some users through a virtual private network.
Qin told Musk China was committed to improving the business environment for investors, including Tesla, and used an elaborate driving metaphor to describe China-U.S. relations.
“We must step on the brake in time, avoid dangerous driving and be skillful at using the accelerator,” the ministry quoted Qin as saying.
It was not clear who else Musk would meet in the Chinese government or what issues they would discuss.
Reuters reported in March that Musk had been planning a trip to China and seeking a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang.
In a 2019 trip to China, Musk met with then-Premier Li Keqiang. A year later, he created a buzz on Chinese social media for dancing onstage to celebrate the opening of Tesla’s Shanghai factory.
INCREASING COMPETITION FOR TESLA
This week’s trip comes at a time when Tesla faces intensifying competition from Chinese-made electric vehicles and some uncertainty about expansion plans for the Shanghai factory complex Musk last visited in early 2020.
China is Tesla’s second-largest market after the United States, and the Shanghai plant is the electric car maker’s largest production hub.
Tesla investors have questioned whether and by how much the electric carmaker will increase output in Shanghai.
Another issue is whether China regulators will clear the release of Tesla’s advanced driver assistance features available in other markets as part of the “Full Self Driving” software it sells for $15,000 per vehicle.
Musk’s space company, SpaceX, and the military applications of its Starlink satellite network have been watched with interest and concern by Chinese researchers since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
State-owned Chinese companies are rushing to follow Starlink by launching their own low-Earth orbit, communications satellites. Chinese military researchers have studied Starlink as a potentially threatening technology, according to research reviewed by Reuters.
While his plane was en route to China, Musk tweeted about advances in China’s space programme, which aims to land a crew on the moon before 2030.
“The Chinese space program is far more advanced than most people realize,” he said.
(Reporting by Tingshu Wang and Josh Arslan in Beijing and Zhang Yan in Shanghai; Writing by Brenda Goh; Editing by Kevin Krolicki, Edwina Gibbs and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)