Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

Prof. ST Hsieh

Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum


[email protected]

October 9, 2022

Elon Musk is a very successful businessman and a good global publicist. He is also a person of many provocative ideas; he has a track record of turning ideas to big-money-making businesses.

Musk is much more thoughtful and can articulate his ideas much better than many politicians. He understands that his suggestion/recommendation to resolve tensions between China and Taiwan won’t make everybody happy. So, it is not surprising that politicians in Taiwan immediately, and brutally, attacked Musk’s idea as a total “sell-off” of the interests of 23 million people in Taiwan. But,

  1. Musk is not dedicating his terms to anyone, he merely provided some “food” for thought.
  2. These politicians’ attacks are “boilerplate” response to any suggestions that they do not like.
  3. Musk also provided his analysis, if China went to war, there would be no winner. The Global economy will not survive, of course Taiwan will be a total ruin just like Ukraine now. The consequence of such a war will impact much more than the 23 million people in Taiwan. Musk is attempting to make peace for everyone!
  4. Whether one agrees with Musk’s suggestion for ending the war in Ukraine or maintaining peace over Taiwan strait, one should take his analysis seriously. If one thinks he/she is smarter than Musk, fine: please make another proposal that has a real chance to ease tensions.
  5. Selfish politicians often hijack the news headline and proclaim they speak for the entire population.

But we know in an open society, there are many different opinions. Specifically, in terms of war and peace, there is never unanimity. War should not be an emotional decision but a choice after all the peaceful means have been exhausted.

Starting a war is easy, but ending a war is always a challenge. The cost of war, especially now nuclear weapons, are on the table. Biden’s comment on “Armageddon” should be a wakeup call for the warriors around the world.

Musk offers proposal on China-Taiwan tensions, after Russia-Ukraine plan

By Kanishka Singh and Hyunjoo Jin Fri, October 7, 2022 at 5:30 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Billionaire Elon Musk, days after floating a possible deal to end the war between Russia and Ukraine that drew condemnation in Ukraine, suggested that tensions between China and Taiwan could be resolved by handing over some control of Taiwan to Beijing.

“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.

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.

“And it’s possible, and I think probably, in fact, that 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’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 defense 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? It’s not acceptable for Ukraine, and Taiwan certainly won’t allow it.”

A senior Taiwanese official familiar with security planning in the region told Reuters that “Musk needs to find a clear-headed political adviser”.

“The world has seen clearly what happened to Hong Kong,” the official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media. “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.

The Shanghai factory accounted for about half of Tesla’s global deliveries last year. Musk said China has sought assurances that he would not offer the Starlink internet service of his SpaceX rocket company there.

Musk said he reckoned that conflict over Taiwan was inevitable and warned of its potential impact on not only Tesla, but also on iPhone maker Apple Inc and the wider economy. The interview did not elaborate on those remarks.

Musk’s Taiwan remarks draw ire from Taipei, thanks from Beijing

BY BRAD DRESS – 10/09/22 6:03 PM ET

Days after weighing in on the Ukraine war, tech billionaire Elon Musk suggested establishing a “special administrative zone” around the self-governing island of Taiwan in a new interview, angering Taipei while earning a thank-you from Beijing.

In an interview with the Financial Times published Friday, Musk discussed how a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would disrupt the global economy and his electric car business, Tesla, which has a factory in Shanghai.

Musk said his recommendation “would be to figure out a special administrative zone for Taiwan that is reasonably palatable.”

That “probably won’t make everyone happy,” he said in the interview. “And it’s possible, and I think probably, in fact, that they could have an arrangement that’s more lenient than Hong Kong.”

Musk’s comment on Taiwan drew the ire of several Taiwanese lawmakers over the weekend.

Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Wang Ting-yu wrote in a Facebook post that “individual independent companies cannot take their ownership as a joke,” according to the Taipei Times.

“So why should they casually pass off the democratic freedoms, sovereignty and way of life of 23 million Taiwanese?” the lawmaker wrote. “It is not acceptable for Ukraine, and Taiwan certainly will not allow it.”

Other lawmakers criticized his comments as tone deaf and said Taiwan needs to protect its sovereign rights amid threats of a Chinese invasion, which became more pronounced in August after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) traveled to the island in a show of support and provoked Beijing.

Musk’s Taiwan proposal — which came just days after he offered a similarly controversial solution on how to end the war in Ukraine, suggesting Kyiv cede some territory and agree to never join NATO — was greeted more enthusiastically by China.

Qin Gang, the Chinese ambassador to the U.S., tweeted that he would “like to thank [Elon Musk] for his call for peace.”

“Actually, Peaceful reunification and One Country, Two Systems are our basic principles for resolving the Taiwan question,” the ambassador wrote.

President Biden has repeatedly made diplomatic waves in recent months with his pledges to send U.S. troops to help defend Taiwan in case of a Chinese invasion.

U.S. officials have insisted that the administration stands by the One China policy and the Taiwan Relations Act, which acknowledges Taiwan is a part of China but allows America to maintain ties and help defend the island nation.

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