Chinese ministers meet Elon Musk, with China-US cooperation, NEVs in focus
Visit shows foreign firms’ confidence in devt prospects, rejects ‘decoupling’ push
Published: May 31, 2023 02:51 PM
Tesla CEO Elon Musk File Photo: Xinhua

Tesla CEO Elon Musk File Photo: Xinhua

Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and Minister of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) Jin Zhuanglong met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Beijing on Wednesday, exchanging views on China-US economic and trade cooperation as well as the development of new-energy vehicles (NEVs).

Experts noted that Musk's visit to China not only indicates that solid trade and economic cooperation between China and the US is an irreversible trend, but also demonstrates foreign companies' trust in China's business environment and promising development prospects, despite Washington's reckless technology decoupling maneuvers.

According to the Commerce Ministry, Wang Wentao met with Musk on Wednesday, and the two sides had extensive and in-depth exchanges on topics such as China-US economic and trade cooperation and Tesla's development in China.

Wang noted that China and the US are deeply integrated economically, and both sides should strengthen economic and trade dialogue and cooperation guided by the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, and world economic development and human progress require open cooperation in science and technology.

Wang said that China is comprehensively promoting Chinese modernization and expanding high-level opening-up, which will bring new development opportunities for enterprises from all over the world, including Tesla. China will continue to provide efficient and pragmatic services and support the long-term and stable development of foreign enterprises in China.

Musk agreed that the China-US relationship is not a zero-sum game, and thanked China for the support and protection provided to Tesla's Shanghai factory during the COVID-19 pandemic. He praised the vitality and potential of China's development and expressed his confidence in the Chinese market, saying that he was willing to continue to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation.

During the meeting with Jin Zhuanglong, the two sides exchanged views on the development of NEVs and intelligent connected vehicles, according to an MIIT statement.

On the same day, Musk also met with Ren Hongbin, chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. They exchanged in-depth views on promoting China-US new-energy sector cooperation, boosting exchanges and cooperation between China and US industrial and commercial circles, and China's holding of the first China International Supply Chain Expo in late November, according to a post by China's trade promotion agency.

"The Chinese ministers' meetings with Musk showed that the country's market is always open to the world, and solid trade and economic cooperation between China and the US is an irreversible trend despite Washington's 'decoupling' push from China," Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute of the Wuhan University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

China always welcomes business figures from all countries, including Musk, to visit China for a deeper understanding of the country and mutually beneficial cooperation, Mao Ning, a spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, told a press conference on Tuesday, in response to a question about Musk's trip.

"China is firmly committed to advancing high-level opening-up and fostering a market-oriented, law-based and internationalized business environment. We welcome foreign companies to invest and do business in China, explore the Chinese market and share in development opportunities," Mao said.

Dong added that Musk's visit to China is the opposite of the US government's anti-globalization attitude and proves that it is not feasible to decouple from China's technology. 

Tesla's Gigafactory in Shanghai is the country's first wholly foreign-funded vehicle project.

"As one of the world's major high-tech companies, the Tesla CEO's trip to China shows the trust of foreign companies in China and their optimism about the world's second-largest economy's development prospects. I believe more international companies will expand their investment in China and strengthen cooperation in the future after Musk's visit," Dong said.

On Tuesday, Musk reportedly had a meeting with Zeng Yuqun, chairman of Chinese electric battery giant CATL. A photo of Musk and Zeng walking side by side in the lobby of a hotel is circulating on Chinese social media.

The Chinese market is important to Tesla in terms of sales and supply chain, and Musk's trip will have a positive effect on its own development, especially in the Chinese market, Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"The visit may further promote the construction of Tesla's planned Megapack power storage plant in Shanghai, as well as the prospect of future cooperation in building battery factories in the US, which are several projects that the market is looking forward to," Cui noted, adding that it will also further promote CATL's development in the field of NEV batteries in the global market.

Tesla announced in April its plan to build its second Megapack super factory for energy storage in Shanghai. According to the plan, it is likely to purchase lithium iron phosphate battery cells from CATL.

As a global frontrunner, CATL makes one-third of the world's electric vehicle batteries. CATL and Tesla had planned to build a battery factory in the US state of Texas, and the US EV maker had discussed plans with the White House and sought clarity on the Inflation Reduction Act rules rolled out by the Biden administration, according to a Bloomberg report in March.

"CATL is a global leader in new-energy battery storage, and Musk is committed to the research and development of new-energy vehicles. The cooperation is highly complementary and can further expand the advantages of both sides in their respective fields, thus making them more competitive in the international market," Dong said.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Zeng Yuqun, chairman of Chinese electric battery giant CATL, walk side by side in the lobby of a hotel. Photo: screenshot from social media platform

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Zeng Yuqun, chairman of Chinese electric battery giant CATL, walk side by side in the lobby of a hotel. Photo: screenshot from social media platform