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Elon Musk, boss of Tesla, visits China, the biggest market for electric vehicles

The boss of the American car manufacturer Tesla, Elon Musk, met with Sunday à Beijing's Chinese number two, Prime Minister Li Qiang, who promised him that the country would "always" open to foreign companies.

Elon Musk arrived earlier in the day for his second trip in less than a year to China, the world's largest market for electric vehicles. This visit had not been announced in advance.

He came “at the invitation of the Chinese Council for the Promotion of International Trade”, according to television public CCTV, which reported comments and details of this visit.

“China will keep its word and continue to work hard to expand market access and strengthen service guarantees,” said Mr. Li, assuring the billionaire that “the huge Chinese market will always be open to foreign-invested companies.” .

Elon Musk, boss of Tesla, visits China, the biggest market for electric vehicles

Chinese number two, Prime Minister Li Qiang, March 24, 2024 in Beijing © POOL – Pedro PARDO, Pedro Pardo

Beijing will also provide foreign companies with “a better business environment” so that “companies around the world can have peace of mind when investing in China”, the Chinese Prime Minister also promised.

China has many business interests for Elon Musk.

“Honored to meet Premier Li Qiang. We have known each other for many years, since the very first days in Shanghai”, where Tesla has a factory, posted the billionaire on X (formerly Twitter), which he owns. He attached a photo of this meeting.

According to CCTV, he told his interlocutor that Tesla was “willing to take the next step to deepen cooperation with China and achieve more win-win results.”

Also according to this source, he had met earlier in the day with Ren Hongbin, head of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, to “discuss the next steps in terms of cooperation and other matters”.

– “The future” –

“It is good to see electric vehicles progress in China”, noted Elon Musk on Sunday, media close to the government reported, affirming that “all cars will be electric in the future”.

Elon Musk is a controversial personality in the Western world, especially the acquisition of Twitter. On the other hand, he is admired in China, where his cars are appreciated by the urban middle classes.

“This is a watershed moment for Musk as well as Beijing, at a time when Tesla faces enormous competition from local manufacturers in China combined with weaker demand,” commented Wedbush analysts.

After making fun of Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers for a while, Mr. Musk changed his attitude by calling them “the most competitive automobile companies in the world” in 2024.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, Chinese giant BYD (“Build Your Dreams”) overtook Tesla to become the world's leading seller of electric vehicles. Never seen before.

Title that Tesla recovered in the following quarter, but BYD remained in the lead in the Chinese market.

The American manufacturer is in turmoil in China: in January it recalled more than 1.6 million vehicles for a software problem.

– “Last hope” –

On the social network Weibo, speculation has been rife since Mr. Musk's arrival. Many believe that he will participate in the Beijing auto show, which runs until May 4.

One Internet user even claims he intends to test an SU7 there. , a model manufactured by the Chinese tech giant Xiaomi.

Lei Jun, its CEO, said in April that pre-orders for this vehicle – unveiled in 2024 – were three at five times higher than expected.

Other commentators believe that Elon Musk came to discuss the possibility of commercializing autopilot technology (“Full Tesla's Self-Driving”) in the Chinese market.

For Wedbush, “a crucial missing piece of the puzzle is that Tesla can make FSD available in China, which now seems to be within reach.”

This trip “shows how close the prospect of FSD in China is to becoming a reality for Tesla”, according to these analysts. He could be a “game changer for the FSD”.

Elon Musk's interest in China is raising questions in Washington. US President Joe Biden notably declared in November 2022 that the billionaire's links with foreign countries “deserved” to be examined.

The boss of Tesla, SpaceX and X – among others – also fueled the controversy by suggesting that the autonomous island of Taiwan should become part of Chinese territory. A position well received by Beijing, not at all by Taipei.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116