China’s commerce minister meets Tesla’s Musk, promises support to foreign companies
A worker walks in a Tesla showroom in Beijing, Tuesday, May 30, 2023. China’s foreign minister met Tesla Limited CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday and said strained US-Chinese relations require “mutual respect,” while delivering a message of reassurance that foreign companies are welcome. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

BEIJING (AP) — China’s commerce minister met Tesla Limited CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday and promised to support the development of foreign companies, the ministry said.

Musk earlier met with China’s ministers of industry and foreign affairs. He joined a series of CEOs from global companies, including Apple Inc, who have met with Cabinet officials or Premier Li Qiang, the top economic official, this year following the end of anti-virus controls that blocked most travel into China.

The ruling Communist Party is trying to revive investor interest in China’s slowing economy and reassure companies that have been rattled by anti-monopoly and data-security crackdowns, raids on consulting firms, tension with Washington and pressure to align their plans with official development goals.

The commerce minister, Wang Wentao, said Beijing will “support long-term, stable development of foreign-invested enterprises in China,” according to a ministry statement.

Musk “praised the potential of China’s development” and expressed willingness to “deepen mutually beneficial cooperation,” the statement said.

The United States and China should “strengthen economic and trade dialogue and cooperation under the guidance of principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation,” Wang was cited as saying.

Earlier, Musk met with the industry minister, Jin Zhuanglong, and “exchanged views on the development of new energy vehicles and intelligent networked vehicles,” the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on its website.

China accounts for half of global electric vehicle sales and is the site of Tesla’s first factory outside the United States.

Li, the premier, delivered a similar message of reassurance in meetings in March with CEOs Tim Cook of Apple, Albert Bourla of Pfizer, Jakob Stausholm of Rio Tinto and Toshiaki Higashihara of Hitachi.

Tesla opened the first wholly foreign-owned auto factory in China in 2019 after Beijing eased ownership restrictions to increase competition and speed up industry development.

Tesla didn’t respond to requests by email for information about Musk’s visit to China.

Musk also is the majority owner of social media platform Twitter, access to which is blocked in China by the ruling party’s internet filters.

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