Exclusive: Elon Musk is planning a trip to China and hopes to speak with the premier

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Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla (TSLA.O), is planning to travel to China as early as April and is hoping to meet with Premier Li Qiang, according to two individuals with knowledge of the trip’s preparations, who spoke to Reuters.

According to one of the sources, Li Qiang’s availability will determine the precise timing of the journey.
Requests for comment on Friday were not quickly answered by Tesla or the China State Council Information Office.

After the United States, China is Tesla’s second-largest market, and its Shanghai plant serves as the company’s main manufacturing base.
Musk’s trip would be his first to China following the COVID-19 outbreak and Xi Jinping’s election to a third term as China’s leader. Prior to taking office as prime minister in March, Li was Shanghai’s party secretary, where he supervised the establishment of the Tesla factory.
Musk’s most recent trip to China took place in the beginning of 2020, when he caused a stir online by dancing on stage at a Shanghai factory function. But he has continued to give online addresses at conferences like the World Internet Conference in China.

During the 2019 Shanghai factory opening, Li and Musk already had a chance encounter. According to local media accounts, in 2020, they took part in an online meeting where Musk thanked the then-Shanghai party secretary for assisting the plant’s operations during the pandemic’s outbreak.
Musk’s scheduled trip coincides with China’s efforts to entice more foreign investment to support its economy, which has been battered by three years of COVID curbs.

Li has been leading that endeavor, speaking over the past week at conferences attended by people like Tim Cook of Apple Inc. (AAPL.O) and Albert Bourla of Pfizer (PFE.N).
What Musk plans to talk about with Li or do in China was not disclosed by the insiders.
Tesla is battling a number of problems, including setbacks with its plans to more than double the Shanghai plant’s manufacturing capacity.

Due to concerns about the cameras installed on the cars, Tesla cars have also been banned from Chinese military installations and political gathering places. The company is still waiting for Beijing’s approval before launching its complete self-driving technology in China.
China is one of the biggest non-American economies. revenue lines for Twitter, which Musk purchased for $44 billion last year, according to sources.

According to the sources, Twitter’s activities in China have led to divisions within the company between teams eager to maximise sales opportunities and others worried about the perception of doing business with entities affiliated with the government at a time of rising tension between Beijing and Washington.