Tesla CEO Elon Musk is visiting China for the first time since 2020 and has been welcomed by Chinese netizens and senior officials alike.
After landing in Beijing on May 30, Musk’s first stop was a meeting with foreign minister Qin Gang. Qin spoke of the importance of the electric vehicle industry within “Chinese-style modernisation” and told Musk he is committed to supporting the growth of foreign businesses in China. According to the Chinese foreign ministry’s official statement from the meeting, Musk told Qin he opposes economic decoupling between the US and China and said that Tesla plans to expand further in the Chinese market.
Musk also met with Zeng Yuqun, the CEO of major Chinese battery manufacturer CATL, which is Tesla’s third biggest supplier after LG New Energy and Panasonic. As China’s electric vehicle market becomes more competitive, Musk will likely be looking to increase output from Tesla’s Shanghai manufacturing hub, where he is due to meet with staff on May 31.
Netizens are hungry for details on Musk and his visit, with the hashtag “What did Musk eat on his first night in Beijing?” the top search result among the multiple Musk-related searches flooding Chinese social media. The most read topic “Musk’s private jet lands in Beijing” clocked up over 100 million views, but other hashtags about his engagements and statements during the trip have also garnered views in the tens of millions.
Musk removed the “China state-affiliated media” labels he introduced after acquiring Twitter and tends to respect local laws in regards to free speech on the platform, keeping him on good terms with the Chinese government. The success of Tesla in China also boosts the government’s narrative that current policies are hospitable towards foreign businesses, making Musk a key business partner for the state and a symbol of continued Chinese economic success.