Elon Musk landed in Beijing in what is the billionaire’s first visit to China in three years, and met with Foreign Minister Qin Gang.
Musk said Tesla Inc. is willing to keep expanding in the country, and he and Qin spoke about the merits of maintaining ties between China and the US, according to a government statement late Tuesday. Qin told Musk that China is committed to developing a good business environment for foreign companies, the statement said.
Musk is also expected to visit Tesla’s Shanghai factory, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The Tesla chief executive officer will potentially meet Premier Li Qiang as well to discuss automated-driving technology that Tesla is seeking to introduce in China, one of the people said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Mao Ning earlier Tuesday welcomed Musk and other business leaders, saying “We would like to see foreign investors operating in China, exploring the Chinese market and sharing in the dividends of the development of China.”
Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Representatives from Shanghai’s government press office and the State Council Information Office of China also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bloomberg reported earlier this month that Tesla is nearing the final stages before starting trial production of its revamped Model 3 sedan in Shanghai, which Musk is betting will compete more effectively with Chinese rivals. The revised version is slightly longer than the earlier version and sportier, with a sleeker interior design.
Tesla’s Shanghai plant accounted for more than half its global production in 2022, and the facility can now produce as many as 1.1 million cars a year. Shipments from Tesla’s Shanghai facility dropped in April, a sign consumers may be casting around for other electric vehicles as manufacturers across the country drop their prices.
The US automaker contributed almost one-quarter of Shanghai’s total automotive production value last year, and local authorities pledged earlier this month to continue to boost ties with the company through autonomous driving and robot modules. –BLOOMBERG