Musk, China, Taiwan and the Limits of Competence

Barry Gander
7 min readJun 3

Both China and Taiwan have told Elon Musk to stay in his lane when he started coming out with peace plans for them.

Musk said the conflict between Taiwan and China could be resolved by making the island a “special administrative zone” similar to Hong Kong.

The Taiwanese officials lashed out immediately, threatening to boycott Tesla if Musk continues to advocate for the proposal. Luo Zhizheng, secretary-general of the Legislative Yuan of the Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan, said “It is understandable that Musk must cooperate with him in order to do business. But now the world is more concerned about how to ensure Taiwan’s democracy, human rights and freedoms.”

In an “F You” moment, Taiwan is now planning its own government-backed satellite communications network, which could offer service to Ukraine as well as Asia. Ukraine’s leaders were equally outraged last year when Musk’s light-bulb went on with a plan to have Ukraine accept Russian ownership of Crimean plus NATO neutrality, in exchange for the lives of its citizens.

The Chinese government also balked at Musk’s plan for Taiwan, calling Musk’s comment “inappropriate.” A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs clarified that “the Taiwan issue is China’s domestic politics,” warning that China “resolutely suppress interference by foreign forces.”

That would be Musk.

He may have been emboldened to speak because the Chinese are giving him a big welcome these days, frightened that he will take his EV work out of China, like so many chip makers are doing. Companies like Apple are moving to cheaper and more friendly production bases, such as India.

China has scary issues: it has a much smaller economy than we thought; Its cities are desperate and are hard-pressed to stay functioning; Its demographics are running dry; and its population is currently getting restive.

China, Taiwan and Ukraine have reasons to doubt the soundness of Musk’s decision-making.

He took over Tesla from the two founders and let his ‘I know best’ decisions about full self-drive vehicles drop the company’s capabilities behind Mercedes, Google, GM and Ford. Tesla’s market share will soon fall below 50%…

Barry Gander

A Canadian from Connecticut: 2 strikes against me! I'm a top writer, looking for the Meaning under the headlines. Follow me on Mastodon @Barry