Elon Musk’s ‘ill-informed and belittling’ China comments dismissed by Taiwan

Billionaire said allowing Beijing to have some control over the island would resolve cross-strait dispute

Taiwanese politicians have dismissed comments from billionaire Elon Musk that allowing China to have some control over the island would resolve the cross-strait dispute and urged him to respect the wishes of Taiwan’s citizens.

Mr Musk’s suggestion to “figure out a special administrative zone for Taiwan that is reasonably palatable,” given in an interview with the Financial Times on Saturday, was welcomed by China’s ambassador to the United States.

The ambassador, Qin Gang, said “peaceful reunification and ‘one country two systems’ are our basic principles for resolving the Taiwan question ... and the best approach to realising national reunification.”

China’s government claims Taiwan is a province, and has threatened to annex it by force if it cannot be “unified” with the mainland peacefully. Taiwan maintains it is an independent nation and has vowed to resist any attempted invasion or annexation.


Mr Musk’s comments, which were given without further elaboration, united Taiwan’s divisive political environment in rejecting them.

Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US, Hsiao Bi-khim, said Taiwan’s “freedom and democracy are not for sale”.

“Any lasting proposal for our future must be determined peacefully, free from coercion, and respectful of the democratic wishes of the people of Taiwan,” she said.

Mr Musk made his suggestion, which he thought would involve an arrangement “more lenient than Hong Kong”, in response to a question about the impact of any conflict involving China on his Tesla factory in Shanghai, which reportedly produced about half of last year’s global supply of Tesla vehicles.

The founder of Tesla said a conflict over Taiwan was “inevitable” and the global economy would take a 30 per cent hit.

“Elon Musk’s opinion means ‘one country two systems’,” said former Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou. “I cannot accept this.”

Candidates for the upcoming Taipei mayoral race, often seen as a pipeline for future presidential candidates, also criticised Mr Musk.

Chen Shih-chung, the candidate from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said Mr Musk’s comments were “ill-informed and belittling and could affect our national security”.

“Elon Musk has brought about revolutionary change through Tesla and SpaceX, even aiding Ukraine against the Russian dictatorship through Starlink,” he said, referring to the availability of Mr Musk’s satellite internet service in Ukraine. “I’m calling on Elon to hold himself to the same democratic values regarding Taiwan.”

Chen’s opponent from the nationalist Kuomintang party, Chiang Wan-an, said the Republic of China (Taiwan’s formal name) was a sovereign independent country.

A former minister, Lin Chia-lung, accused Mr Musk of being “hungry for the Chinese market.”

“Musk is trading with the devil, and we will not be affected by his word.” He went on to say that the world’s richest man knew such a suggestion would put Taiwan into the same status as Hong Kong or Tibet.

Beijing has proposed it would rule Taiwan under the same system as Hong Kong, and promised Taiwan would retain some freedoms, but few on the island believe it.

A growing majority of Taiwan’s citizens reject the idea of unification with China, and an increasing number of people support outright independence.

Beijing’s crackdown on dissent and opposition in Hong Kong, less than halfway through a promised 50 years of “a high degree of autonomy” is pointed to by Taiwanese politicians as evidence they would not remain free.

China launched massive military drills off Taiwan after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visited the island in August. — Guardian