Tesla chief executive Elon Musk on Tuesday said he has no problem balancing his planned acquisition of Twitter with his business dealings in China.
When attending the Qatar Economic Forum via video link, Musk was asked if he could balance his stance on free speech in the Twitter bid and his Tesla’s interests in China whose ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a record of censoring content deemed harmful to its image.
“China does not attempt to interfere with the free speech of the press in the U.S., as far as I’m aware,” Musk said in an interview with Bloomberg at the forum. “I don’t think this is going to be an issue.”
Questions about the Chinese regime’s potential influence over Musk were raised shortly after he announced in April his offer to buy Twitter in a transaction worth around $44 billion.
“Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wrote on Twitter on April 26, hours after Musk announced the buyout.
Twitter is blocked in China and is not accessible to most Chinese citizens, though the CCP has built a network of influencers, with the help of bots and spammers, to spread its propaganda to users overseas.
At the Doha conference, Musk said there remain several unresolved matters with his bid to buy Twitter, including the coming together of the debt part of the transaction, the outcome of a shareholder vote, and the number of spam users on the platform.
Musk also praised the work of other Chinese carmakers. “I am very impressed with the car companies in China, just in general companies in China. I think they’re extremely competitive, hard-working, and smart,” he said.
China has already emerged as Tesla’s fastest-growing market and largest production site. The electric carmaker’s sales in China more than doubled in 2021, accounting for one-fifth of the total sales.
Musk said China would become Tesla’s largest market in the long term in a March interview with China’s state television.
Meanwhile, nearly half of the company’s global deliveries came from Shanghai’s production facility last year.
Telsa's gigafactory has recently resumed production after being shut down for several weeks during the two-month COVID lockdown in Shanghai.