Billionaire Elon Musk received plenty of praise during his trip to China this week. On social networks, he was called a “pioneer”, “Brother Ma” and “a global idol”, while the CEO of Tesla, Twitter, SpaceX and other companies met personally with three government ministers in Beijing, reports Reuters.
Since landing in Beijing on Tuesday, Musk has met with China’s foreign, trade and industry ministers and dined with Zeng Yuqun, chairman of top battery supplier CATL.
Little is known about the conversations they had. The industry ministry said only that Musk and the minister exchanged views on the development of electric vehicles and connected cars;
At the same time, the Ministry of Commerce announced that Musk discussed with his boss the development of Tesla in China.
But the lack of information did not stop the wave of enthusiasm for Musk on Chinese social networks. “He’s a global idol,” commented one user.
“Elon Musk is great, if only China could have someone like Elon Musk,” said another.
His private jet left Beijing late on Wednesday for the financial center of Shanghai, where the American automaker has a factory, according to flight data provider Variflight.
Musk was expected to go to the plant to meet with staff, two sources familiar with the matter said. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
Musk’s popularity in China
Musk’s unannounced trip to China was the latest by a major US CEO to China since the country reopened its borders following the zero-Covid policy.
Apple CEO Tim Cook visited China in March, while JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon and Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan are also in China this week.
But compared to the low-key receptions for his counterparts, Musk’s visit is a hot topic and his popularity comes despite rising tensions between the US and China, with strong interest in his comments on artificial intelligence and electric vehicles.
Even the menu for the 16-course meal at luxury restaurant Man Fu Yan that he had with CATL’s Zeng on Tuesday night was like a tribute, photos posted on social media show.
Illustrated with two two-legged horses – a play on the horse character used in Musk’s Chinese name – the menu described Tesla as a dark horse that “stands out from traditional car companies”.
Unlike the social media firestorm in China and his tendency at home on Twitter (which he now owns), Musk has yet to make any public statements during his trip. The social media platform Twitter is blocked in China.
Musk’s first visit to China in three years comes as Tesla faces intense competition from electric vehicles made in China and some uncertainty over plans to expand its Shanghai plant.
The Shanghai plant produced more than 700,000 Model Y and Model 3 vehicles last year, more than half of the company’s global output.
Investors are eager to learn whether Chinese regulators will approve the rollout of Tesla’s advanced driver assistance features. The features are available in the United States as part of its “Full Self Driving” software, which it sells for $15,000 per vehicle.
Editor : G.M.