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Musk leaves China after Tesla factory visit, govt meetings

#Musk #leaves #China #Tesla #factory #visit #govt #meetings

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s private jet departed Shanghai on Thursday, Chinese flight-tracking data showed, as the tycoon wrapped up a visit to China, the world’s largest market for electric vehicles.

This was the first trip to China in more than three years by the mercurial tycoon, one of the world’s richest men.

Musk, who has extensive business interests in the country, met with senior officials in Beijing and visited Tesla’s Gigafactory on the outskirts of Shanghai for a late-night meeting with staff.

“The cars we produce here are not just the most efficient, but also the highest quality,” he told employees at the electric vehicle plant, according to a video posted by Tesla vice president Grace Tao on China’s Weibo social media platform on Thursday.

He also praised staff for having “overcome so many difficulties and so many challenges”.

“There’s so much positive energy,” he said.

“That, actually, I think will be very important, not just for Tesla but for the world.”

Musk’s jet took off from Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport just after 11 am (0300 GMT) on Thursday, according to data from Umetrip, which is backed by China’s major state-owned airlines.

The tracker indicated the plane was bound for Austin, Texas, where Tesla is headquartered.

– ‘Vitality and promise’ –

Tesla has not released readouts of Musk’s meeting with officials in China this week, nor has it responded to AFP requests for more details on his itinerary.

And the tycoon — normally outspoken on Twitter, the social media platform he owns but which is blocked in China — did not tweet during his visit.

According to official Chinese channels, Musk lavished praise on the country during his visit, with the readouts quoting him as praising its “vitality and promise” and expressing “full confidence in the China market”.

Following talks with Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Tuesday, the government said the Tesla CEO had expressed a desire to “expand its business in China”.

Tesla announced in April it would build a massive battery factory in Shanghai — its second plant in the city after Gigafactory, which broke ground in 2019.

The new factory, which will have an initial capacity of 10,000 Megapack units per year, is expected to “start production in the second quarter of 2024”, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Musk’s interests in China have long raised eyebrows in Washington, with President Joe Biden saying in November that his links to foreign countries were “worthy” of scrutiny.

The tycoon has also caused controversy by suggesting the self-ruled island of Taiwan should become part of China — a stance that was welcomed by Chinese officials but which deeply angered Taipei.

Asked about the visit, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said this week that Beijing welcomed visits by international executives “to better understand China and promote mutually beneficial cooperation”.

Musk is one of a number of Western executives to visit China since the country ended the strict Covid controls that saw it largely closed off from the world for almost three years.

In March, Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Beijing, saying his company enjoyed a “symbiotic” relationship with China.

The CEOs of other major multinational companies, including Starbucks, JP Morgan and General Motors, have also recently made trips to the country and met with officials.

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#Musk #leaves #China #Tesla #factory #visit #govt #meetings

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