INTERNATIONAL - From Jack Ma to Pony Ma, the leading lights of China’s internet industry gather in Shanghai this week to showcase the country’s latest advances in artificial intelligence. 

But the real headliner could be US entrepreneur Elon Musk. The Tesla and SpaceX impresario features prominently on the opening-day card of the World AI Conference, which kicks off today in Shanghai as a rallying cry of sorts for China’s burgeoning AI industry - one of the few arenas in which the race for supremacy remains wide open and Chinese achievements have both stunned and spooked Washington. 

Musk’s presence at the important Beijing-endorsed AI symposium lends credence to China’s vision of becoming the world leader in the technology by 2030 and comes as US President Donald Trump wages a campaign to rein in the world’s No 2 economy. 

Musk is scheduled to kick things off by engaging Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma in what’s expected to be a free-wheeling debate with one of China’s most lionised corporate chieftains. Zhang Hongtao, one of the event’s organisers, said Musk’s attendance had been secured “quite early”, and that Musk would share more on the future development of Tesla’s Shanghai investment with conference delegates. 

Tesla, which spent years haggling before it became the first foreign carmaker to own a Chinese car-manufacturing facility, views the country as an increasingly important market. 

BLOOMBERG