Tesla CEO Elon Musk meets China’s foreign minister, touts expansion

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk attends an opening ceremony for Tesla China-made Model Y program in Shanghai, east China, Jan. 7, 2020.

Ding Ting | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Shares of Tesla rose Tuesday after the electric carmaker’s CEO Elon Musk met with China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang.

It comes as Beijing is pushing to show it is open to foreign business, and as Musk reportedly signaled further expansion of his car company’s business in China.

Qin, who was until recently China’s ambassador to the U.S., said “Chinese-style modernization,” characterized by a huge population and “common prosperity” will create “unprecedented growth potential and market demand,” according to a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry.

He added that China’s electric vehicle market “has broad prospects for development” and that China will continue to open up and create a better market-oriented and law-based business environment for foreign firms like Tesla.

According to the Chinese foreign ministry statement, Musk praised the Chinese people and China’s achievements. Tesla opposes “decoupling” and is willing to continue to expand its business in China, the statement said.

Shares of Tesla jumped 5% shortly after markets opened Tuesday, before later paring gains. As of 10 a.m. ET, the stock was trading at $202.93, up 2.6% for the session.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a CNBC request to verify the Chinese foreign ministry’s statement.

The meeting between Musk and Qin comes at a time of continued tensions between the U.S. and China over technology. Last year, Washington enacted sweeping export restrictions on key chips and semiconductor equipment to China, in a move that could hobble’s Beijing’s attempts to boost its domestic industry in a critical technology.

This month, Chinese regulators barred operators of “critical information infrastructure” in China from buying products from U.S. chipmaker Micron.

The Chinese foreign minister on Tuesday said that a “constructive” U.S. and China relationship is in the interest of both countries and the world.

Competition

On Tesla’s side, Musk’s visit of Tuesday comes as the company faces heightened competition and a price war in China. Tesla has been adjusting the prices of its cars in China amid a tougher macroeconomic environment in the world’s second-largest economy.

The Chinese foreign ministry statement did not supply much detail on what was discussed between Musk and Qin. China is Tesla’s second-biggest market, and Musk has sought to maintain good relations with Beijing. The billionaire has pledged investments over the years and praised the country’s technology.

“China rocks in my opinion,” Musk said in 2020.

Tesla’s biggest car production factory is in the Chinese mega-city Shanghai, and the company in April announced plans to build another plant locally to manufacture its Megapack energy storage system.



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