Tesla CEO Elon Musk is on his first trip to China in over three years.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is in China, making his first trip to the world’s second largest economy in more than three years.
He arrived in Beijing on Tuesday and is set to visit Tesla’s massive production facility in Shanghai.
Within hours of landing in China, the multibillionaire met with China’s foreign minister, Qin Gang.
Mr Musk has not yet publicly commented on the trip, which comes amid US-China tensions.
When reporters approached him outside a hotel in Beijing on Wednesday, he declined to comment on his travel intentions.
Later that day, Musk met with China’s industry minister, Jin Zhuanglong, to discuss the advancement of electric vehicles.
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China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that Mr Musk was prepared to develop Tesla’s operations in the country, which is Tesla’s second-largest market after the United States.
According to the government, Mr Musk likened the US and Chinese economies as “conjoined twins” during the meeting.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the BBC.
Mr Musk has also been unusually silent on Twitter, which he owns and has over 141 million followers.
He is known for tweeting frequently throughout the day, but as of Wednesday midday, he had not written anything since landing in the country on Tuesday afternoon.
Although the social media site is restricted in China, it may be accessed via VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks.
Mr Musk is the most recent high-profile US executive to visit China. JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon is in China this week, as is Apple CEO Tim Cook, who visited the country in March.
However, as tensions between Washington and Beijing escalate, Tesla finds itself in a precarious situation, according to Dan Ives of research firm Wedbush Securities.
“Playing nice in the sandbox in Beijing is something Wall Street is laser focused on,” Mr Ives added, “to ensure there are no disruptions to Tesla’s expansion within China in the coming years.”
Tesla began construction on its so-called gigafactory in Shanghai in January 2019, making it the company’s first production plant outside of the United States.
Later that year, it delivered its first Chinese-made vehicles, marking a significant milestone for the American firm.
Covid lockdowns, however, made it increasingly impossible for businesses to function across the country, especially in Shanghai, the country’s financial, manufacturing, and shipping capital.
Mr Musk stated last year that the coronavirus shutdown in Shanghai was “very, very difficult” for Tesla, which apparently paused most output at its gigafactory for many weeks.
According to Mr Musk, operations have since restarted at the plant, which manufactured its millionth car in August. This accounted for one-third of Tesla’s total output.
Last month, the business announced plans to construct a new factory in China to manufacture its large-scale “Megapack” batteries.
According to market research firm JATO, China has also become the largest market for Tesla’s Model Y mass-market electric vehicle.
According to JATO figures, more than 94,000 Model Y vehicles were sold in China in the first three months of this year, putting it ahead of the US and Europe.
Tesla’s position in the electric vehicle market has been challenged in recent years by rising rivalry from automakers such as Ford and General Motors, as well as younger entrants such as China’s BYD and Nio.
Mr Musk, who paid $44 billion (£35.5 billion) for Twitter last year, has been under pressure to find someone else to head the company and refocus his attention on his other firms, including Tesla and rocket firm SpaceX.
He chose Linda Yaccarino, the former president of advertising at NBCUniversal, as the platform’s new CEO earlier this month.
Ms Yaccarino will confront the task of leading a firm that has struggled to be profitable while also being under to heavy scrutiny for how it tackles disinformation and hate speech.
According to financial services firm Fidelity Investments, which assisted Mr Musk in financing his buyout of the company, Twitter is now worth roughly one-third of what he paid for it.