Musk advises on China-Taiwan tensions after Russia-Ukraine plan

WASHINGTON, Oct 7 (Reuters) – Billionaire Elon Musk suggested days after proposing a possible deal to end Russia and Ukraine’s denounced war in Ukraine, China and Taiwan. Tensions between the two could be eased by handing over some control of Taiwan to Beijing.

Musk, the world’s richest man, told the Financial Times on Friday: “My suggestion … is to create a special administrative region for Taiwan that is quite palatable, but it may not please everyone.” When asked by the newspaper about China Musk made the remarks when his Tesla (TSLA.O) electric car company operates a large factory in Shanghai.

Beijing, which calls democratically ruled Taiwan one of its provinces, has long vowed to bring the island under its control and has not ruled out the use of force. The Taiwanese government strongly opposes China’s sovereignty claims and says only Taiwan’s 23 million people can determine its future.

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“It’s possible, and I think, in fact, that they may have a more relaxed arrangement than Hong Kong,” the paper quoted Musk as saying.

China offered Taiwan a “one country, two systems” model of autonomy similar to Hong Kong, but it has been rejected by all of Taiwan’s mainstream political parties and has no public support, especially after Beijing imposed a draconian national security law in the city in 2020.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry declined to comment on Musk’s remarks, but 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 clearly seen what happened in Hong Kong,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “Hong Kong’s economic and social dynamism has come to an abrupt halt under Beijing’s totalitarian rule.”

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

Musk said he sees a conflict in Taiwan as inevitable, warning of potential implications not only for Tesla but also for iPhone maker Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and the broader economy. The interview did not elaborate on the remarks.

Earlier this week, Musk proposed that Ukraine permanently cede Crimea to Russia, with Ukraine agreeing to remain neutral in a new referendum under the auspices of the United Nations to determine the fate of Russian-held territory.

He asked Twitter users to weigh in on his plans, drawing sharp criticism from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who offered his own Twitter poll: “Which one do you prefer @elonmusk? Support Ukraine ( or) pro-Russian people.”

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Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Leslie Adler and William Mallard

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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