BEIJING, CHINA — Elon Musk and China’s industry minister discussed ways to develop new energy vehicles Wednesday, a day after the Tesla CEO flew into Beijing and declared he wanted to expand his business in the world’s second-largest economy.
The mercurial billionaire, one of the world’s richest men, is on his first trip to China in more than three years.
On Wednesday he met Jin Zhuanglong in Beijing to discuss “the development of new energy vehicles and intelligent connected vehicles”, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a readout.
It did not share further details. Tesla representatives did not respond to AFP requests for further information on Musk’s itinerary.
Musk has extensive business interests in China and on Tuesday told foreign minister Qin Gang that his firm was “willing to continue to expand its business in China”, according to a foreign ministry readout.
Chinese media reported Tesla welcomed its CEO to Beijing on Tuesday with a 16-course dinner that included seafood, New Zealand lamb and traditional Beijing-style soybean paste noodles.
China is the world’s biggest electric vehicle market and Tesla announced in April it would build a second massive factory in Shanghai, which would be its second plant in the city after Gigafactory, which broke ground in 2019.
In his meeting with Qin on Tuesday, Musk also expressed his opposition to an economic “decoupling” between China and the United States, Beijing said.
“The interests of the United States and China are intertwined, like conjoined twins, who are inseparable from each other,” Musk added.
Musk’s extensive business ties to China have raised eyebrows in Washington, with President Joe Biden saying in November that the executive’s links to foreign countries were “worthy” of scrutiny.
And he has caused controversy by suggesting the self-ruled island of Taiwan should become part of China — a stance welcomed by Chinese officials but which deeply angered Taiwan.
Critics point to the industrial ties linking Musk to China, which has increasingly fraught ties with Washington.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Tuesday that the country welcomed visits by international executives “to better understand China and promote mutually beneficial cooperation”.