Elon Musk has suggested making Taiwan a “special administrative zone” and Taipei allowing Beijing some say in running the island nation.
The Tesla billionaire said tensions between China and Taiwan could be resolved with a power-sharing arrangement for Taiwan, similar to the one drawn up for Hong Kong in 1997.
“My recommendation … would be to figure out a special administrative zone for Taiwan that is reasonably palatable, probably won’t make everyone happy,” the world’s richest person told the Financial Times in an interview published on Friday.
Musk was responding to a question about China, where his Tesla electric car company operates a large factory in Shanghai. The factory accounted for about half of Tesla’s global deliveries last year.
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 the use of force to do so. Taiwan’s government strongly objects to China’s sovereignty claims and says only the island’s 23 million people can decide its future.
“It’s possible they could have an arrangement that’s more lenient than Hong Kong,” Musk, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
China has offered Taiwan a “one country, two systems” model of autonomy similar to what Hong Kong has, but that has been rejected by all mainstream political parties in Taiwan and has no public support, especially after Beijing imposed a tough National Security Law in the city in 2020.
Taiwan Lawmaker Slams Musk Plan
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Musk’s comments on Saturday.
Wang Ting-yu, a senior lawmaker for Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party who sits on parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee, slammed Musk on his Facebook page.
“Individual independent companies cannot take their ownership as a joke,” Wang said. “So why should they casually pass off the democratic freedoms, sovereignty and way of life of 23 million Taiwanese?”
A senior Taiwanese official, familiar with security planning in the region, said: “The world has seen clearly what happened to Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s economic and social vibrancy abruptly ended under Beijing’s totalitarian rule.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning, asked about Musk’s remarks, said Taiwan was a “domestic affair”, adding that Beijing would continue to adhere to the principle of peaceful reunification while “resolutely smashing” Taiwanese separatism.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara