Elon Musk holds talks with Chinese Prime Minister in surprise visit to Beijing

Beijing, China - Billionaire businessman Elon Musk, head of Tesla, held talks with Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang in Beijing on Sunday after arriving unexpectedly aboard a private flight.

Elon Musk held talks with the Chinese Prime Minister in Beijing on Sunday after arriving unexpectedly aboard a private flight.
Elon Musk held talks with the Chinese Prime Minister in Beijing on Sunday after arriving unexpectedly aboard a private flight.  © ETIENNE LAURENT / AFP

During the talks, Li described Tesla's presence in China as "a successful example of Chinese-American economic and trade cooperation."

Musk praised the "hard work" of his Chinese team in Shanghai, which had made the Tesla plant there the best performing in the company. Musk added that he was looking to enhance cooperation with China.

Media reports indicated that the surprise visit had to do with data transfer issues.

Is Jennifer Lopez's mental health struggling amid rocky marriage to Ben Affleck?
Jennifer Lopez Is Jennifer Lopez's mental health struggling amid rocky marriage to Ben Affleck?

According to the reports, Musk is seeking to secure permission for Tesla to store data gathered in China in the course of an autonomous driving program in the United States as well.

Musk, who heads ventures other than Tesla, will meet Ren Hongbin, president of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), for negotiations during the visit, according to Chinese state television.

His visit also coincides with the Beijing Auto Show, China's largest automotive industry event, although it remains unclear whether Musk plans to visit the trade fair.

Elon Musk discusses Tesla plans amid business slump

China remains the second-largest market for Tesla vehicles and is also a major production hub for the company. Tesla's largest factory is located in Shanghai.

Tesla has been mired in a business slump, exacerbated by a general downturn in the market for electric cars and tough competition from cheaper Chinese-made vehicles, which have significantly improved in quality over recent years.

Tesla announced earlier this month that it would cut more than 10% of all jobs worldwide.

Just over a week ago, Musk postponed a planned meeting with Indian President Narendra Modi, citing Tesla obligations.

Cover photo: ETIENNE LAURENT / AFP

More on Elon Musk: