Elon Musk’s quick trip to China included talks with the deputy prime minister

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk left Shanghai on Thursday, wrapping up a two-day visit to China during which he met top Chinese government officials, including the country’s top vice premier.

Photos and video of Musk’s visit late Wednesday to the Tesla factory in Shanghai — the automaker’s largest production center — showed him holding a “Giga Shanghai” sign, surrounded by hundreds of employees including Tom Chu, global manufacturing chief.

The video posted by Tesla showed Musk praising employees for “overcoming so many difficulties and challenges” and marking a heart with his hands.

Earlier in the trip, Musk met with Chinese foreign ministers, trade and industry in Beijing and had dinner with the head of contemporary battery supplier Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) (300750.SZ).

An informed source said he also met with Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang on Wednesday. Deng is the sixth-highest-ranking leader of the Politburo Standing Committee, the highest governing body led by President Xi Jinping.

This is the first time that Deng is known to have had a one-on-one meeting with a foreign CEO. China values ​​its relationship with Tesla, and in 2019, Musk held a one-on-one meeting with then-Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

Two separate sources said Musk also met with Chen Jining, the party secretary in Shanghai, on Thursday.

The State Council Media Office, Tesla, which handles media inquiries on behalf of the Chinese government, and the Shanghai government did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Since his arrival in China on Tuesday morning, the US billionaire has received praise from the Chinese public, but Musk himself has remained uncharacteristically silent and has yet to make any public statements.

Little is known about the conversations he had with Chinese government officials so far. The sources, who were not authorized to speak to the media and declined to be identified, did not provide details of Musk’s discussions with Ding or Chen.

The Ministry of Industry contented itself with saying that Musk and its president exchanged views on the development of electric cars and connected cars. The Commerce Department announced that Musk had discussed Tesla’s development in China with its secretary.

The American billionaire’s private jet took off from Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport Thursday morning bound for Austin, Texas, where Tesla is headquartered, according to flight-tracking platform Variflight.

(Reporting by Zhang Yan, Brenda Goh and Nekoko Chan in Shanghai and Julie Zhou in Hong Kong; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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