THE GUARDIAN - Reuters in Washington - OCT 8, 2022
Billionaire recommends in interview that Taipei let Beijing control some of the island and believes conflict over Taiwan is inevitable
Elon Musk has suggested tensions between China and Taiwan could be resolved by handing over some control of Taiwan to Beijing.
The billionaire’s remarks were published just days after he floated a possible deal to end the war between Russia and Ukraine which drew condemnation in Ukraine.
The world’s richest person told the Financial Times in an interview published on Friday: “My recommendation … would be to figure out a special administrative zone for Taiwan that is reasonably palatable, probably won’t make everyone happy. And it’s possible, and I think probably, in fact, that they could have an arrangement that’s more lenient than Hong Kong.”
Musk made the suggestion when asked by the newspaper about China, where his Tesla electric car company operates a large factory in Shanghai. The Shanghai factory accounted for about half of Tesla’s global deliveries last year.
Musk believed that conflict over Taiwan was inevitable, the FT report said, and warned of its potential impact on not only Tesla but also on iPhone maker Apple as well as the wider global economy, which he estimated would take a 30% hit.
Musk also said China had sought assurances that he would not offer the Starlink internet service of his SpaceX rocket company there. He said Beijing had made clear its disapproval of his recent rollout of Starlink in Ukraine to help the military circumvent Russia’s cut-off of the internet.
Beijing, which says democratically ruled Taiwan is one of its provinces, has long vowed to bring Taiwan under its control and has not ruled out using force. Taiwan’s government rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only the island’s 23 million people can decide its future.
Earlier this week, Musk proposed that Ukraine permanently cede Crimea to Russia, that new referendums be held under United Nations auspices to determine the fate of Russian-controlled territory, and that Ukraine agree to neutrality.
He asked Twitter users to weigh in on his plan, drawing sharp criticism from the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who proposed his own Twitter poll: “Which @elonmusk do you like more? One who supports Ukraine (or) one who supports Russia.”
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