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Elon Musk has been in the news a lot recently, both for his comments about the war in Ukraine and his apparent agreement to finally purchase Twitter.
Many media outlets in the United States don’t like Musk for openly supporting Republican candidates and going against their political wishes, but one international media member has taken disagreement to a whole new level.
Hu Xijin from the Global Times, a Chinese state-affiliated media outlet, responded to a poll Elon posted about how to achieve peace in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and said that Musk “believes too much in…’freedom of speech'” and that he “will be taught a lesson.”
Musk responded to the not-so-veiled threat:
According to Twitter’s translation, this means, “Overconfident man with hands in pockets.”
This is an incredibly strange incident, with no clear indication as to why Musk’s poll about Ukraine would upset Chinese state media so much.
Not to mention the uncertainty of the “lesson” the Chinese intend to teach him.
Tesla maintains a significant and rapidly growing sales presence in China, but companies operate in the country at the whims of the Chinese Communist Party.
This exchange highlights why companies live in fear of upsetting the CCP. Their business relies heavily on the massive Chinese market, and the slightest disagreement or word choice can jeopardize billions of dollars.
Companies choosing to depend on China are essentially powerless, unless they’re willing to abandon their stated “principles” at a moment’s notice to appease the government.
Elon Musk, however, has never shied away from supporting freedom of speech and speaking his mind, sometimes to his own detriment.
This threat could lead to some substantial consequences for Musk’s Tesla business, or it could be come to nothing.