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Musk Makes Surprise Visit To China To Roll Out Self Driving Tech, Say Sources

Elon Musk
FILE PHOTO: Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk gets in a Tesla car as he leaves a hotel in Beijing REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

Tech billionaire and entrepreneur Elon Musk is believed to have landed in Beijing on Sunday, sources quoted in a Reuters report have said. While neither Musk nor X, his social media platform, has confirmed the trip, these sources say he is going to China to discuss the rollout of the Full Self Driving Software (FSD) for Tesla. China is hugely important for Musk and the company’s filings show that China is Tesla’s second-largest market after the US.

Musk’s China trip comes after he postponed a much-awaited trip to India. Tweeting about the trip on X, he stated. “Unfortunately, very heavy Tesla obligations require that the visit to India be delayed, but I do very much look forward to visiting later this year.”

Musk has a very close business relationship with China, especially with regard to Tesla. An NYT report stated that when the company was on the verge of bankruptcy a few years ago, Musk approached Chinese officials to open a factory in Shanghai. Today, Tesla has since 2021 stored all data collected by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai as required by Chinese regulators, and has not transferred any back to the US. The FSD will also be another shot in the arm for China. It was launched four years ago in the US but has yet to become available in China.

Musk had already hinted at the launch. Replying to a social media query earlier this month on X, Musk said Tesla may make FSD available to customers in China “very soon.”

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Musk has never hidden his China-friendly stance. When President Xi Jinping visited the US for a summit with President Biden, and then for a meeting in San Francisco with the US’s top business leaders in November last year, Tesla’s Weibo account had plenty to say.

President Xi “met with Elon Musk and other important representatives in a small gathering, showing support for Tesla’s development in China,” the post said, adding that “Musk expressed gratitude and applauded the fast growth of China’s new-energy vehicle sector.”

“We are very honored to be part of the fast growth and hope to express our sincere gratitude to the encouragement and support from all friends,” it continued. “We will continue to dive deep in China,” it concluded.

(With inputs from Reuters)