SHANGHAI: A jet belonging to Tesla CEO Elon Musk departed Shanghai on June 1, Chinese flight-tracking data showed, as the tycoon wraps up a visit to China that has seen him express hopes to expand business in the world’s largest market for electric vehicles.
Musk’s private jet took off from Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport just after 11am (0300 GMT), data from Umetrip, which is backed by China’s major state-owned airlines, showed.
It was bound for Austin, Texas, where Tesla is headquartered.
The mercurial tycoon, one of the world’s richest men, is wrapping his first trip to China in more than three years.
On Wednesday night he visited Tesla’s factory on the outskirts of Shanghai and met employees, a post on China’s Weibo social media by the car company’s global vice president Grace Tao showed.
Earlier in the day he met Commerce Minister Wang Wentao in Beijing, praising China’s “vitality and promise” and expressing “full confidence in the China market”, according to a readout.
Musk and Tesla have not released any statement on the trip, or responded to AFP requests for comment.
The billionaire has extensive business interests in the country and told Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Tuesday that his firm was “willing to continue to expand its business in China”, according to the foreign ministry.
Musk’s work in China has raised eyebrows in Washington, with US President Joe Biden saying in November the Twitter owner’s links to foreign countries were “worthy” of scrutiny.
The tycoon has also caused controversy by suggesting the self-ruled island of Taiwan should become part of China – a stance welcomed by Chinese officials but which deeply angered Taipei.
Musk is one of a number of Western executives to visit China since the country ended strict Covid controls that saw it largely closed off from the world for almost three years.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said this week that Beijing welcomed visits by international executives “to better understand China and promote mutually beneficial cooperation”.
In March, Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Beijing, saying his company enjoyed a “symbiotic” relationship with China. – AFP