Musk visits China for first time in three years

Briefly: Tesla (et al) founder Elon Musk met with China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Tuesday (30 May). Musk and several other top CEOs are visiting Beijing for a JP Morgan conference.

China is key for Musk. Its 1.4 billion person market makes up a fifth of Tesla’s revenue, a third of its unit sales, and more than half its total production. So it’s no surprise Musk is (according to Beijing) wary of US-China decoupling.

China’s statement about Musk also included some banging automotive puns, including the need to avoid “dangerous driving” in US-China relations, and “step on the gas” to promote cooperation. Have folks there been reading Intrigue?

Intrigue’s take: China’s defence minister won’t meet the US defence secretary, and the foreign minister is slow-walking a meeting with his US counterpart.

Yet China’s top officials clear their calendar for Musk. And by doing so, they send a message to the US: be more like Musk, keep investing, say nice things, and everybody will get along.

Things might get trickier for Musk when China chooses to send a different message.

Also worth noting:

  • Tesla’s share price jumped 5% after Musk met China’s foreign minister.
  • Tesla announced plans last month to build a new battery factory in Shanghai.
  • Musk didn’t tweet while he was in China. It was his longest break from Twitter in a year. The app is banned in China but is generally available for those with a US roaming plan.