Tesla Inc.'s Elon Musk met more government officials on the second day of his trip to China, having opened his first visit since before the pandemic by emphasizing the importance of maintaining ties with the nation.
The billionaire met with Jin Zhuanglong, China's minister for industry and information technology, in Beijing on Wednesday. The pair exchanged views on the development of new energy vehicles and intelligent connected vehicles, according to a statement from the ministry.
Photos on Chinese social media site Weibo also showed Musk visiting China's Ministry of Commerce, accompanied by Tom Zhu, Tesla's senior vice president of automotive, and Grace Tao, Tesla's vice president in charge of government and public affairs in Greater China.
According to a statement published by the Ministry on its official website, Musk, during his meeting with Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao, thanked authorities for the help Tesla's Shanghai factory received during Covid, and restated his confidence in China.
Musk arrived Tuesday in Beijing, where he met Foreign Minister Qin Gang. He's also expected to visit Tesla's Shanghai factory during the trip. In his meeting with Qin, Musk said the interests of China and the U.S. are intertwined, according to a government statement. The release cited him saying that Tesla opposes decoupling from China and is willing to keep expanding in the country.
The remarks are reminiscent of Mercedes-Benz Group AG's Ola Källenius telling the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag last month that unbundling from China is "an illusion," and Apple Inc.'s Tim Cook emphasizing the symbiotic nature of the iPhone maker's relationship with the country during a visit in March. Just last week, General Motors Co.'s Mary Barra said China remains a key market for the company and that she was looking forward to continuing to develop clean cars with local partners.
The comments run counter to efforts by leaders including US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to gain a geopolitical upper hand over Chinese President Xi Jinping by exerting greater influence over the trade of key components, including electric-car batteries and semiconductors. The US and Germany have offered state support for local manufacturing to help de-risk supply chains and wean the auto industry off its heavy reliance on China for EV components.
The Tesla chief also met with the CEO of battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., Yuqun Zeng, on Tuesday, according to ArenaEV. A picture of him with Zeng walking through what looks like a hotel lobby circulated on social media. CATL declined to comment.
Bloomberg has previously reported Tesla is looking to build a battery plant in the U.S. with CATL.
Tesla wants to pursue a deal similar to one that Ford Motor Co. announced in February with CATL to construct a plant wholly owned by Ford. The automaker's deal has provoked ire from lawmakers including Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who argue it allows the Chinese company to benefit from U.S. subsidies.