Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, returned to China’s electric vehicle company’s primary manufacturing center on Tuesday for the first time in three years to meet with the country’s foreign minister in Beijing.
This is the most recent visit by a prominent U.S. CEO to China since the nation lifted its zero-COVID policy in December and reopened its border.
Hours after touching down in Beijing, Musk spoke with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang.
His ministry said that China was dedicated to enhancing the economic climate for companies like Tesla and that he had used a complex driving metaphor to represent the condition of ties between China and the United States.
Like Being There’s Chance the Gardener, Qin Gang said we must apply the brakes when necessary, steer clear of risky driving, and use the accelerator with the skill to foster cooperation that benefits us both.
China’s foreign minister assured Musk that international enterprises are welcome and that “mutual respect” is needed to improve tense relations between China and the United States.
After the United States fired down a Chinese balloon, it claimed was gathering intelligence and cautioned China not to send armaments to Russia for its conflict against Ukraine, tensions between the two countries have been high. The Pentagon said on Monday that China had turned down a request for its defense minister to meet with the U.S. defense secretary when both were in Singapore this weekend.
The governing Communist Party is attempting to reinvigorate investor interest in China’s weakening economy, and Musk’s visit comes at a good moment. Companies overseas are on edge because of recent raids on consultancy firms and the tense relationship between Beijing and Washington.
After Beijing relaxed ownership limitations in 2019 to enhance competition and speed up industry development, Tesla constructed China’s first entirely foreign-owned vehicle plant.
Competition from Chinese-made electric vehicles is growing, and Tesla’s intentions to expand its central production facility in Shanghai are unclear.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Chinese scientists have been closely monitoring Musk’s SpaceX and the military uses of its Starlink satellite network.
Many state-owned Chinese firms are in a hurry to launch their low-Earth-orbit communications satellites to compete with Starlink. Reuters cites studies showing that Chinese military scientists have investigated Starlink as a potentially dangerous technology.