Elon Musk Says Taiwan Should Become 'Special Administrative Zone' Under China

Commenters disparage the idea

Elon Musk Says Taiwan Should Become 'Special Administrative Zone' Under China
Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition in Washington on March 9, 2020. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo)
Tom Ozimek

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has sparked a flurry of critical reactions after telling the Financial Times that he thinks conflict over Taiwan is inevitable and the self-governed island should become a "special administrative region" under Beijing's control, like Hong Kong but "more lenient."

Musk made the remarks in a Financial Times interview published on Oct. 7, after being asked about China, where Tesla manufactures as much as half of its total output.

If an open conflict over Taiwan were to break out, which Musk said he thinks is bound to happen, then Tesla would get caught up in it, he said. Apparently wishing to avoid business interruptions, Musk then expressed his eyebrow-raising take on the fate of the island, which Beijing has long vowed to gain control over, by force if necessary.

"My recommendation ... would be to figure out a special administrative zone for Taiwan that is reasonably palatable, probably won't make everyone happy," Musk is quoted as saying.

He said he believes it's possible or even probable "that they could have an arrangement that’s more lenient than Hong Kong.”

When the former British colony was returned to China over two decades ago, Beijing vowed to preserve Hong Kong's capitalist system for 50 years and so allow residents to enjoy many freedoms that Mainland Chinese cannot. But China's communist rulers have, in recent years, taken increasingly hardline measures to hamstring Hong Kong's political system and stifle dissent.

'Bad Taiwan Take Of The Year'

Musk's suggestion for Taiwan's future status drew a series of critical reactions.

"Good grief. First he wants to surrender #Ukraine to #VladimirPutin. Now he wants to give #Taiwan to #CCP #China," wrote Benedict Rogers, co-founder and chief executive of Hong Kong Watch, an organization that monitors human rights and rule of law issues in Hong Kong, in a Twitter post.

"The answer, @elonmusk, is: NO. NO. NO," Rogers added.

Rogers' reference to Musk wanting to "surrender" Ukraine to Russian President Vladimir Putin refers to Musk's four-part proposal to facilitate peace in the Ukraine-Russia war that includes affirming Crimea as part of Russia, Ukraine pledging military neutrality, and UN-supervised elections in the regions of Ukraine Putin has annexed.

Lev Nachman, a professor of political science at Taiwan's National Chengchi University, took to Twitter to say that the people of Taiwan overwhelmingly oppose a "One Country Two Systems" framework for the island—the concept that was supposed to be implemented in Hong Kong.

Nachman cited a 2021 study that showed nearly 90 percent of Taiwanese opposed such a framework, arguing that this number is likely higher today.
"It's not even a two-sided issue, everyone in Taiwan would be against what Musk is proposing," he wrote.

"I nominate Elon Musk recommending Taiwan accept One Country Two Systems as bad Taiwan take of the year," Nachman added.

Michael Caster, who co-founded the non-governmental organization Safeguard Defenders, which promotes the rule of law and human rights in Asia, said in a post on Twitter that Musk appears "willing to throw #Taiwan under the bus to appease his business relations in #China."

Beijing Vows to 'Resolutely Crush' Taiwan Independence

Musk's Taiwan proposal was met with an enthusiastic reaction from Hong Kong politician Regina Ip, known for her pro-Bejing stance on various issues, including backing Hong Kong's draconian National Security Law (NSL) that the UN and the European Union have recommended be repealed.
"Elon Musk has spoken well on Taiwan suggesting it should become a special administrative region like Hong Kong! The world should pay attention to this voice of reason and pragmatism," Ip said in a post on Twitter.
When Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning was asked about Musk's remarks on Saturday he used the opportunity to reiterate Beijing's position that it plans to push for Taiwan's reunification with the mainland and vowed to "resolutely crush 'Taiwan independence' secessionist attempts..."
China’s communist regime recently ramped up its military threat against the self-ruled island.
“China has acted increasingly aggressively when it comes to Taiwan,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a recent interview, according to CBS News. “That poses a threat to peace and stability in the entire region.”

Even though the United States ended formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979 and switched recognition to Beijing under the “One China” policy, Washington maintains a robust, unofficial relationship with Taipei and is legally bound to provide it with the arms necessary to defend itself.

Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
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