He’s “a pioneer,” “Brother Ma” and some want him to be US president.
Billionaire Elon Musk has been showered with praise by the Chinese public during his trip to China and while also securing audiences with three government ministers.
Since landing in Beijing on Tuesday, the Tesla Inc chief executive has met with China’s foreign, commerce and industry ministers and has dined with Zeng Yuqun, chairman of top battery supplier CATL.
While little is known of those discussions - the industry ministry has only said Musk and its head Jin Zhuanglong exchanged views about the development of electric vehicles and connected cars - that hasn’t stopped an outpouring of enthusiasm for Musk on Chinese social media.
“He’s a global idol,” commented one user. “Elon Musk is just great, if only China could have someone like Elon Musk,” said another.
Musk’s unannounced trip is the latest by a major US CEO to China since the country reversed its zero-COVID policy and reopened its borders. Apple’s Tim Cook visited in March, while JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon and Starbucks’ Laxman Narasimhan are also in China this week.
But compared to lower-key welcomes for his counterparts, Musk’s visit is a hot trending topic, and his popularity comes despite rising US-China tensions, with keen interest shown in his comments on artificial intelligence and electric vehicles.
Even the menu for the 16-course meal at the upmarket Man Fu Yan restaurant he shared with CATL’s Zeng on Tuesday evening was effusive, photos posted on social media showed.
Illustrated with two rearing horses - a play on the character for horse used in Musk’s Chinese name - the menu described Tesla as a dark horse “standing out from traditional automotive companies.”
In contrast to the social media storm in China and his propensity at home to make waves on Twitter (which he now owns), Musk has yet to make any public statements during his trip. Twitter is blocked in China.
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