Taiwanese politicians have dismissed comments by Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, that allowing China some control over the island would resolve the cross-strait disputeurging him to respect the wishes of the citizens of Taiwan.
Musk’s suggestion to “determine a special administrative zone for Taiwan that’s reasonably appetizing,” given in an interview with the Financial Times on Saturday, was welcomed by China’s ambassador to the US.
Ambassador Qin Gang said “peaceful reunification and ‘one country, two systems’ are our basic principles for resolving the Taiwan issue… and the best approach to achieving national reunification.”
China’s government claims that Taiwan is a province and has threatened to annex it by force if it cannot be “unified” with the mainland peacefully. Taiwan maintains that it is an independent nation and has pledged to resist any attempts at invasion or annexation.
Musk’s comments, which were given without further details, united Taiwan’s divisive political environment by 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 of coercion, and respectful of the democratic wishes of the people of Taiwan.”
The mainland affairs council said Taiwan, which has the world’s top semiconductor makers, has worked with Tesla for a long time. The council told Bloomberg Musk that the proposal was “based on investment interests to turn a democratic country into a special administration.” He invited Musk to learn how a free market can develop differently from autocratic China.
Musk made his suggestion, which he thought would involve a “more lenient than Hong Kong” arrangement, in response to a question about the impact of any conflict involving China on his Tesla factory in Shanghai, which reportedly produced around the half of last year’s world supply. of Tesla vehicles. He said a conflict over Taiwan was “inevitable” and the global economy would take a 30% hit.
“Elon Musk’s opinion means ‘one country, two systems,'” former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said. “I can’t accept this.”
Candidates for the upcoming Taipei mayoral race, often seen as a pathway to future presidential candidates, also criticized Musk.
Chen Shih-chung, the candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said Musk’s comments were “uninformed and disparaging and could affect our national security”.
“Elon Musk has brought about revolutionary change through Tesla and SpaceX, even helping Ukraine against the Russian dictatorship through Starlink,” he said, referring to the availability of Musk’s satellite internet service in Ukraine. “I call on Elon to uphold the same democratic values regarding Taiwan.”
Chen’s opponent from the nationalist Kuomintang party, Chiang Wan-an, said that the Republic of China (Taiwan’s formal name) was a sovereign and independent country.
A former minister, Lin Chia-lung, accused Musk of being “hungry for the Chinese market.”
“Musk is negotiating with the devil, and his word will not affect us.” He went on to say that Musk knew such a suggestion would put Taiwan in the same status as Hong Kong or Tibet.
Beijing has proposed that it would govern Taiwan under the same system as Hong Kong and promised that Taiwan would retain some freedoms, but few on the island believe this.
A growing majority of Taiwanese citizens reject the idea of unification with China, and a growing number of people support outright independence.
Beijing’s crackdown on dissent and opposition in Hong Kong, less than half of the promised 50 years of “a high degree of autonomy,” is pointed to by Taiwanese politicians as evidence that they will no longer be free.
Beijing’s threats against Taiwan have increased in recent years. In August, the CCP military surrounded Taiwan and held live-fire exercises in response to a visit to Taiwan by US President Nancy Pelosi. Chinese officials later said that the drills demonstrated the kind of blockade it might one day use against Taiwan, that Taiwanese would be subject to “re-education” after the invasion, and that supporters of independence would be punished under Chinese law.
Musk caused a furor earlier this month with another foray into geopolitics, suggesting that Ukraine permanently cede Crimea to Russia to bring peace to the conflict unleashed by the Russian invasion in February.
tesla has been previously accused of ignoring human rights abuses in Chinaafter it opened a showroom in Xinjiang in January.
In the interview, Musk also said that Beijing had asked him for assurances that he would not offer Starlink service in China. Beijing is closely aligned with Russia.
Additional reporting by Chi Hui Lin