Musk concludes 24-hour visit to China; EV capacity jointly forged by Chinese, foreign companies
Published: Apr 29, 2024 09:04 PM
Elon Musk Photo: VCG

Elon Musk Photo: VCG

Chinese analysts said Tesla's attraction to the fiercely competitive Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) market offered an example to the world about healthy business competition, as global cooperation is needed for the human race to implement green transition strategies and tackle climate challenge.

Musk concluded his 24-hour whistle-stop visit to China on Monday, after he arrived in Beijing on Sunday and met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang.

Calling Tesla's development in China a successful example of China-US economic and trade cooperation, Li said the facts have proved that cooperation featuring equality and mutual benefits serves the fundamental interests of both countries, and meets the common expectations of the two peoples, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

Noting that foreign-funded enterprises are indispensable participants in and contributors to China's development, Premier Li said that China's vast market will always be open to them. 

On Sunday, a Chinese industrial association published a list of 76 models of intelligent connected vehicles that meet the country's auto data security requirements, including those from BYD and Tesla. Some interpreted this progress as being helpful for Tesla's self-driving push. 

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said the test aims to help regulate auto data processing, protect the rights of car users, and build a sound environment for auto data security and the industry.

Commenting on Musk's visit, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian told a regular press briefing on Monday that China welcomes foreign-invested companies to expand and deepen cooperation in China, and share the fruits of China's high-quality development, while expecting foreign companies to abide by Chinese laws and regulations and fulfill their security commitment.

Analysts said the fact that Tesla passed the data security check along with a number of Chinese EV makers showed that the Chinese government supports security compliance efforts made by foreign companies in emerging sectors and that China holds no ulterior motives in pursuing its security goals. This approach lies in stark contrast with the US, which frequently uses its security concern as an excuse to crack down on Chinese companies in recent years or politicize the security issue.

Gao Lingyun, an expert on China-US relations, told the Global Times on Monday that facts have shown that the Chinese approach toward solving data security issue is pragmatic.

"Tesla's passing the checks with a number of Chinese private EV makers underlined Chinese government's efforts to offer a level playing ground for foreign automakers," Gao said.

Lü Xiang, research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday that Musk's visit to China, his reception by Chinese premier, and the passing of test have made one thing clear: any foreign company that is confident enough to come to China's fiercely competitive EV playground will be given its place and there are no preferential policies tilted toward Chinese companies.

The Chinese EV market is highly competitive with many players burning billions of yuan without succeeding.

Tesla in April raised and then slashed prices for its models in a short time span of 20 days. Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun, in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV, praised Tesla's swift move as being very rare among Global 500 companies as such decisions usually took months for those behemoths.

Lei, himself having toured a Tesla production site to learn from Musk before jumping onto the EV manufacturing adventure himself, said he is not afraid of a price war.

Lei claimed that Xiaomi's SU7 bookings, at over 70,000, is triumph beyond belief and noted that the EV market welcomes exchange and cooperation, as these are the driving force to lead the industry forward and ultimately benefit consumers.

The same voice on global efforts were also expressed by chiefs of automakers from China and abroad at the ongoing 2024 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition.

Chinese analysts said Musk's visit, which happened amid the so-called overcapacity hype by some Western politicians and media outlets, revealed a plain truth that China's current EV capacity has been jointly forged by both Chinese and foreign companies. And in China, there is no exclusivity, unlike in the US, where Chinese EVs are so far denied market access.

Lü pointed out that the Biden administration, now apparently backpedaling on its pursuit of a green economy by giving in to pressure from worker unions at traditional US automakers making predominantly internal combustion engine vehicles, should thank China for helping the US preserve an EV seed by offering an open, vast market to Tesla.

Lü believes Tesla already faces serious challenges from the fiercely competitive Chinese EV market and has some serious work to do.

But the Chinese government has not intervened in the market other than efforts aimed at ensuring fair competition and market access, while the US government launches discriminatory policies targeting Chinese companies, Lü said.

In his meeting with Premier Li, Musk said that Tesla's Shanghai gigafactory is the company's best-performing factory and Tesla is willing to deepen cooperation with China to achieve more win-win results.

Chinese analysts said Musk's remarks, along with Apple's CEO Tim Cook's visit to China in March during which he said China is Apple's most critical supply chain, are testaments to China's importance to US companies as both a primary manufacturing base and a primary market.