‘Mutual respect’ call as China foreign minister meets Elon Musk in Beijing

Strained US-Chinese relations require “mutual respect”, China’s foreign minister has said during a meeting with Elon Musk, reassuring the Tesla Ltd CEO that foreign companies are welcome.

US-Chinese relations are especially tense after Washington shot down a Chinese balloon believed to be gathering intelligence and warned Beijing against supplying arms to Russia for its war against Ukraine.

The Wall Street Journal reported China has rejected a request for its defence minister to meet the US defence secretary when both are in Singapore this weekend.

“We need to keep the steering wheel in the right direction of mutual respect, peaceful co-existence and win-win co-operation,” Qin Gang told Mr Musk, according to a ministry statement.

The two sides should “avoid dangerous driving”, Mr Qin said.

He gave no details of steps to improve relations.

Mr Musk’s visit comes as the ruling Communist Party is trying to revive investor interest in China’s slowing economy.

Foreign companies are uneasy following raids on consulting firms and given the strained Chinese relations with Washington.

Mr Qin said China will “unswervingly promote high-level opening up” and create a “market-oriented, law-based and internationalised business environment”, according to the statement.

“China’s development is an opportunity for the world,” the statement said.

China’s electric vehicle market “has broad prospects for development”, the ministry quoted Mr Qin as saying.

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

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.

The Chinese statement cited Mr Musk as saying Tesla was willing to expand its business in China and “opposes decoupling”, a reference to fears the world could split into multiple markets with incompatible products.

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


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