Type to search

‘Hello China, Goodbye India’: Musk’s Trip Seen As Snub To Modi

Musk was due to meet Indian PM Modi last week and announce an EV factory of up to $3 billion, but cancelled saying there were ‘very heavy Tesla obligations’

Tesla has begun talks about an EV plant in India
Tesla chief executive Elon Musk shakes hands with Indian PM Narendra Modi at their meeting in New York City in June 2023. Image: Reuters


Tesla chief Elon Musk’s surprise trip to China, days after cancelling a pre-planned visit to India, became a hot topic for Indian media and political commentators this week.

Musk was due to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week and announce an investment of up to $3 billion in a car plant but cancelled saying there were “very heavy Tesla obligations”.

By then, the Indian government had sent out invites for a startup event Musk was to attend.


Also on AF: China Eyes Smart EV Revolution With Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving’


A week later, Musk landed in China for a trip that became the tech world’s most talked about development over the weekend.

Musk’s trip was widely covered in India, with references to his decision to cancel his Indian trip. News channels in the country, which often take a hard line position against China, blasted the visit.

The Mirror Now news channel ran a prime time news segment with a tagline “Shoddy ethics or simply business?”, with the anchor saying “here in India everybody was shocked.”

Digital news service News9 ran a segment late on Monday on Musk, saying “Hello China, Goodbye India?”. It then flashed on the screen, “VERY HEAVY TESLA OBLIGATIONS? China visit a week after cancelling India”.

Neither Tesla or Modi’s office responded to requests for comment. Musk said on April 20 he looks forward to visiting India later this year but the Indian government has not commented on his trip cancellation or China visit.

Indian media’s reaction highlights the increasing rivalry between India and China, Asia’s two largest countries by population and among the region’s most dynamic economies.

Business and diplomatic relations between them have been strained since a 2020 border clash left 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers dead.


Modi’s foreign business push

India is also increasingly being viewed as a destination for tech investments as part of the move to ‘de-risk’ supply chains from China. Companies such as Apple and several of its suppliers have stepped up expansion of their manufacturing operations in India.

At the same time, companies have also dealt with an array of issues ranging from red tape to poor yield and quality while operating in India.

In such circumstances Musk’s trip and potential EV factory announcement would have come as a huge boost for nationalist Modi amid a hotly contested general election.

Had he not cancelled his trip, Musk would have arrived in India two days after the start of the country’s massive national election.

A Tesla investment would also have been seen as an endorsement of Modi’s business friendly image, while the incumbent PM would likely have used Musk’s trip to highlight progress toward promises of making India a global manufacturing hub.

Modi’s opponents seized on Musk’s China visit to criticise the prime minister.

“Such is the lack of faith in the Modi government’s regulatory policies, that big businesses are turning to China over India repeatedly,” Shama Mohamed, the national spokesperson of main opposition Congress party wrote on social media website X.

Political satirist Akash Banerjee, who runs YouTube channel “The Patriot”, questioned how Musk had no time to meet Modi, but still went to China.

“Do you think Modi will forgive Musk from his heart?” Banerjee said in a video that has clocked 268,000 views in 19 hours.


  • Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena


Also read:

Fake AI Political Vids Spark India Election Meddling Fears

Tesla Win in India: Govt to Slash EV Import Tax if $500m Invested

Tesla Searching For $2-3 Billion India EV Factory Site: FT

Foxconn to Ramp Up India Operations With $1.5bn Pledge

India Seen Overhauling Japan as World’s No4 Economy – Nikkei

Indian Stocks Miss Out On Traditional Pre-Election Rally


Vishakha Saxena

Vishakha Saxena is the Multimedia and Social Media Editor at Asia Financial. She has worked as a digital journalist since 2013, and is an experienced writer and multimedia producer. As a trader and investor, she is keenly interested in new economy, emerging markets and the intersections of finance and society. You can write to her at [email protected]


AF China Bond