Elon Musk left China like a superstar, where they called him “comrade”

The Tesla owner even met with China’s foreign affairs officer.

In the West it arouses controversy, but in  China it was received as a superstar. Tesla CEO Elon Musk was greeted with enthusiasm in the Asian giant this week, with fans referring to him as ” Comrade Musk .”

In the world’s second largest economy, owning a Tesla electric vehicle has become the social marker of the middle class in recent years.

And the success of this 51-year-old billionaire, born in South Africa, but also a US and Canadian national, is widely admired.

Zhu Qi, owner of a  Tesla in the city of Changsha (center), admits it without mincing words: she says that she reveres Elon Musk for his “great personal charisma and his excellent perseverance in his field.”

“China is not yet very open (a country), so the fact that people like him come and share part of their knowledge with us is something important, from which our country and our leaders could be inspired,” said this professor. 33-year-old university student, in statements to AFP .

“Because of our exam-focused education system, I think it’s difficult for China to produce someone like Musk , who has acquired world leader status based on personal interests,” he added.

Musk , who is also the owner of Twitter (inaccessible in China ) makes his first visit in more than three years to China, after the lifting of the zero covid policy. He arrived in Beijing on Tuesday and traveled to Shanghai on Wednesday.

The “comrade Musk” friend of China

On Weibo — the Chinese Twitter — users enthusiastically followed each stage of their stay.

The businessman was received almost as a foreign political leader. In Beijing he met with various members of the government, before whom he applauded the “vitality” of Chinese development.

In Shanghai, he visited the Gigafactory assembly plant , inaugurated by Tesla in 2019, according to images published on Weibo by Grace Tao, in charge of public relations for the group in the country.

And he left China on Thursday morning in his private jet.

Photos of his welcome dinner on Tuesday, which featured 16 different dishes including seafood, New Zealand lamb and traditional Beijing noodles, went viral.

“For Musk, on this planet there are no countries, only markets to sell his merchandise,” said an Internet user. “It’s exactly the kind of borderless capitalism that he predicted.”

Some used the occasion to mock the United States , at a time when bilateral relations are particularly complicated.

Elon Musk “seems to be the only American welcome in China ,” noted one Weibo user .

“Biden must be wondering why China declines his invitations to meet with top US officials, but rolls out the red carpet for Musk ,” another quipped.

A meme that circulated the platform this week showed a ” comrade Musk ” in the guise of head of state standing behind a podium flanked by Chinese flags, while officials in suit-clad background applauded him.

But not everyone in China fell for Elon Musk .

Some noted that the photos of his visit to the Shanghai factory , where he poses surrounded by hundreds of employees, were posted at half past twelve.

In recent years, more and more employees in the technology sector have criticized the long working hours and high levels of stress to which they are subjected.

“It’s a bit old-fashioned to force so many people to stay up in the middle of the night just to take photos,” said one netizen.

“You’re all doing overtime tonight, right?” asked another.