China’s ambassador to the US on Saturday thanked Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk for suggesting a solution to the dispute over Taiwan, while his idea drew criticism from Taiwanese officials.
In an interview with Financial Times, Musk said he believes a conflict over Taiwan is inevitable. War in the region could significantly hurt his business interests as Tesla’s Shanghai factory accounts for between 30% and 50% of the company’s total production.
When asked about a potential solution to the Taiwan situation, Musk suggested a “special administration zone” could be created for Taiwan and said the arrangement could be “more lenient than Hong Kong.”
As part of the handover agreement with the UK, China agreed to keep Hong Kong somewhat autonomous under the “one country, two systems” policy. The US and other critics of China argue that the policy was violated by the National Security Law Beijing passed back in 2020 in response to massive protests that rocked the city. China cited foreign interference as the reason to implement the law, and the US did give support to demonstrators in Hong Kong.
China has previously offered a one country, two systems arrangement to Taiwan and maintains that it seeks “peaceful reunification,” something Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang reiterated when he thanked Musk on Twitter.
“I would like to thank @elonmusk for his call for peace across the Taiwan Strait and his idea about establishing a special administrative zone for Taiwan,” Qin said. “Actually, Peaceful reunification and One Country, Two Systems are our basic principles for resolving the Taiwan question …and the best approach to realizing national reunification.”
Qin went on, “Provided that China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests are guaranteed, after reunification Taiwan will enjoy a high degree of autonomy as a special administrative region, and a vast space for development.”
While Qin liked Musk’s suggestion, Taiwanese officials did not. Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Washington wrote, wrote on Twitter that the island’s freedom and democracy were “not for sale” and Taiwanese lawmakers slammed Musk’s suggestion.
The comments over Taiwan mark the second time within a week that Musk was at the center of a geopolitical issue. For floating an idea for a potential peace deal in Ukraine, Musk drew heavy criticism from Ukrainian officials even though he’s helped Kyiv’s war effort by providing Starlink terminals.