Some call it “Comrade Musk” : visiting China for three days, the boss of the manufacturer Tesla, Elon Musk, received an enthusiastic welcome, both from the authorities and from Chinese Internet users. The charismatic and controversial entrepreneur was received with great fanfare in Beijing, by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qin Gang, the day of his arrival, Tuesday May 30, then by the Minister of Industry, by the Minister of Commerce and by Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang, a close associate of President Xi Jinping.
A treatment worthy of a minister. And symbolic, at a time when tensions between China and the United States are at their highest: Beijing refuses, for example, the resumption of a military dialogue proposed by Washington. But the Chinese authorities are seeking to attract foreign investment to breathe life into an economy that is struggling to recover after three years of isolation due to the zero Covid policy.
In Beijing, Elon Musk was received for dinner by Robin Zeng, the boss of CATL, the world’s number one electric battery, for a 16-course banquet. The two companies plan to build a battery factory in the United States. Tesla sold 439,770 vehicles in China in 2022, up 37% year-on-year. But the Shanghai Gigafactory, inaugurated at the end of 2019, is capable of producing 1.1 million cars per year, enough to fuel exports to other regions, making China Tesla’s first production base in the world.
The boss of Tesla with a busy schedule went there late Wednesday evening, May 31, for a reception in the presence of a hundred employees. Thursday 1er June, he met the general secretary of the Shanghai Party, who encouraged him to strengthen his investments in the city. In April, Mr. Musk announced the construction of an industrial battery factory in Shanghai.
Also owner of Twitter, Elon Musk has not published a single message in three days on the censored social network in China. In October 2022, Musk had suggested that the independent island of Taiwan could be integrated into the Middle Kingdom in the form of “special administrative zone”angering the Taiwanese, but congratulating the Chinese ambassador in Washington.
Elon Musk “is apparently the only American welcome in China”, noted a user on the Chinese social network Weibo, quoted by Agence France-Presse. ‘Biden must be wondering why China declines invitations to meet senior US officials, but rolls out red carpet for Musk’amused another.
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