Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s recent trip to China has been met with adoration and appreciation from the Chinese public, along with the opportunity to engage with three government ministers. During his visit, Musk held meetings with China’s foreign, commerce, and industry ministers, as well as enjoying a dinner with Zeng Yuqun, chairman of leading battery supplier CATL.
While the details of these conversations remain undisclosed, the Chinese social media sphere has been flooded with admiration for Musk. Users have hailed him as a global icon and expressed their desire for someone like him in China’s ranks.
Following his departure from Beijing, Musk’s private jet headed to Shanghai, where Tesla’s manufacturing plant is located. Notably, his visit has generated significant attention compared to other CEOs and occurs amidst growing tensions between the United States and China. Chinese audiences have displayed a keen interest in Musk’s viewpoints on electric vehicles and artificial intelligence.
Even the dinner menu shared by Musk and Zeng at the Man Fu Yan restaurant became a topic of conversation. The elaborate 16-course meal featured imagery of two rearing horses, a clever nod to Musk’s Chinese name and a description of Tesla as a groundbreaking force in the automotive industry.
Despite his propensity for making waves on social media, Musk has refrained from making public statements during his visit, considering that Twitter is inaccessible in China. However, the foreign ministry quoted Musk as referring to the interconnectedness of the U.S. and Chinese economies and expressing his opposition to their separation.
This trip marks Musk’s first visit to China in three years, coinciding with Tesla facing increasing competition from domestic electric vehicle manufacturers. There is also some uncertainty regarding the expansion plans for the Shanghai plant. Sources indicate that Musk is expected to meet other high-ranking Chinese officials and visit the Shanghai facility later in the week, potentially including a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, as previously sought by Musk.
The Shanghai factory has already made a significant contribution to Tesla’s global output, producing over 700,000 Model Y and Model 3 vehicles last year. Any regulatory obstacles to further expansion remain unclear at this time.
Investors are also eagerly awaiting clarity on whether Chinese regulators will approve Tesla’s advanced driver assistance features for release. While these features are available in the United States as part of the “Full Self Driving” software, their approval for Chinese markets remains uncertain.