Tesla CEO Elon Musk met with China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang in Beijing to discuss expanding the company’s business there amid the country’s rapid expansion of electric vehicle exports, according to multiple reports.
Qin touted a “Chinese-style modernization” of the automotive industry driven by the nation’s large population and commitment to “common prosperity” in a statement following the meeting, and Musk reportedly expressed interest in continued expansion of Tesla’s operations in China, according to CNBC. China became the world’s largest auto exporter in the first quarter of 2023, surpassing Japan after exports surged 58% from last year to 1.07 million vehicles, in part due to a surge of electric vehicle (EV) exports — including Teslas manufactured at the company’s Shanghai factory — to Europe, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“China is firmly committed to advancing high-level opening up and fostering a market-oriented, law-based and internationalized business environment,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning to reporters Tuesday. “We welcome foreign companies to invest and do business in China, explore the Chinese market and share in development opportunities.”
The meeting comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and China and a bipartisan effort in Washington to reduce America’s economic dependence on China, particularly with respect to green technologies, electric vehicles and mining of critical minerals, a sector which China essentially dominates. Musk had not visited the country since it implemented strict anti-COVID measures three years ago, and is slated to meet with several high-ranking Chinese officials and visit his company’s Shanghai facility, although the influential businessman’s exact itinerary could not be confirmed, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Fellow Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Twitter said that Musk and Tesla opposed “decoupling or cutting off supply chains” between the U.S. and China. Musk described the economies of the U.S. and China — Tesla’s first and second largest markets respectively — as “conjoined twins,” Reuters reported, citing a statement from China’s Foreign Ministry.
Tesla struggled significantly in 2022 amid slumping demand, which prompted an uncharacteristic shutdown of its Shanghai factory and repeated price adjustments — both up and down — to improve the company’s competitiveness against Chinese automakers, according to CNBC. The company earlier this year made Tom Zhu, who previously oversaw the company’s China division, Musk’s right-hand man, in charge of the struggling automaker’s factories worldwide.
Tesla and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.
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