China is extremely important to Tesla, and the company’s dedicated facility in the country, Gigafactory Shanghai, already serves as the electric vehicle maker’s primary export hub. It is then important for Musk and Tesla’s leadership to ensure that the company’s operations in China are as smooth as possible.
Citing people reportedly familiar with the matter, Reuters recently noted that Musk is planning a visit to China as early as April. As per the publication’s sources, Musk intends to meet with China Premier Li Qiang during his trip. The exact timing of the trip would then depend on the official’s availability.
Neither Tesla nor China’s State Council Information Office has issued comments about the recent reports.
China represents Tesla’s second-largest market after the United States, and Giga Shanghai, apart from being the company’s primary export hub, serves as the electric vehicle maker’s largest plant by volume. The plant produces Model 3 sedans and Model Y crossovers that are sold domestically and exported to other countries.
If the reports prove accurate, this would be the first time Musk would visit China since the pandemic started. It would also be Musk’s first visit since Xi Jinping secured a third term as China’s president.
Musk’s most recent visit to China was in early 2020 during Giga Shanghai’s first customer delivery event. The event became quite noteworthy on the internet after Musk performed an impromptu dance onstage. Despite not visiting the country physically, however, Musk has made his presence felt in the country by participating virtually at forums like China’s World Internet Conference.
Musk and Li are no strangers to each other. The two have met before at the 2019 opening of the Shanghai facility. The Premier previously held the position of Shanghai’s party secretary, overseeing the construction and inauguration of the Tesla factory. And in 2020, they took part in online meetings where Musk expressed gratitude for Li’s support of the plant during the pandemic.
Elon Musk’s reported visit coincides with China’s efforts to attract more foreign investment to boost its economy, which has been impacted by several years of COVID restrictions. Li has been a prominent figure in these efforts, recently addressing business events attended by executives from prominent companies such as Apple and Pfizer.