Eccentric billionaire Elon Musk is being criticized for opening a Tesla Electric Automotive Company showroom in China’s Xinjiang province. The region is notorious for its massive detention centers, forced labor, and other human rights abuses.
Many taunt Musk as another prominent businessman who values profits over moral principles. The latest were two Democrat U.S. lawmakers who said in a letter that he had set “a poor example and further empowers the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at a fraught moment.”
Dr. Xie Tian of South Carolina University has a different perspective. In an interview with Secret China, he said the showroom opening does not mean Musk, a right-wing billionaire, supports the Chinese regime.
Xie said that the Tesla showroom in Xinjiang was just an ordinary business expansion activity because the company already has a factory in Shanghai.
Xie reminded that Musk is a vocal right-wing billionaire who supported the protection of U.S. tradition and culture. He also publicly spoke in favor of former U.S. President Donald Trump and stood out from most business entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who often have a favorable view of China.
The South Carolina University lecturer believed that Musk should have a specific understanding of the Chinese regime as a conservative. In addition, his company has also, in some ways, challenged China.
One example is Tesla’s Starlink satellite project, which disrupted China’s Tiangong Space Station last year, forcing it to change course in July and October to avoid a collision.
Starlink is also planning to launch 100,000 satellites to Earth orbit to maximize global internet connection. The project stands to undermine Beijing’s internet firewall, erected to keep Chinese people from information that would be non-beneficial to the government.
Furthermore, Dr. Xie believed that instead of leaking technology and enriching China with Tesla openings in the country, Musk has been doing the opposite, making China spend money for him.
Xie explained, “We know that the Tesla Shanghai factory was specially approved by Shanghai authorities which planned a piece of land for him and even provided funds and loans. He brought his own technology in, but he retains 100% sole proprietorship. In other words, he did not share his technology with any company in China.”
Moreover, Xia reminded that Tesla was earning profits from Chinese people, who were attracted to its cars for their exceptional qualities.
Although China might be hoping that Tesla can promote its electric vehicle sector yet, the U.S.-based company remains a leader in the industry. In contrast, China’s cars have so far been much inferior.
The lecturer had high doubts if China could achieve its purpose. He said, “Those other companies in China are still copying and repeating at a low level, and none of them can catch up with Tesla.”
Xie also declined the view that Tesla would gradually become dependent on the Chinese market and eventually fall into the Chinese regime’s so-called “economic trap.”
He said that Tesla’s largest factories are in the U.S. and Germany. India has also invited Musk to invest in its country, making Tesla far from dependent on the Chinese market. The facilities in China were just to offer products for its people.