As tensions between China and Taiwan reach a new high, officials from both countries have clashed in recent days over an unsolicited idea from billionaire Elon Musk.
In an interview, the world’s richest man suggested that if Taipei handed over some control of the democratically governed island to Beijing, hostilities between the two could be resolved, prompting praise from China and predictable outrage in Taiwan.
“My recommendation… would be to figure out a reasonably palatable special administrative zone for Taiwan,” Musk told the Financial Times in an interview published on Friday. “And it’s possible, and I believe likely, that they could have a more lenient arrangement than Hong Kong.”
In a tweet Saturday, China’s ambassador to the United States, Qin Gang, thanked Musk for his suggestion, calling for “peaceful unification and one country, two systems.”
However, Taiwan’s US representative, Bi-khim Hsiao, stated that “Taiwan sells many products, but our freedom and democracy are not for sale.”
Despite never having governed Taiwan, China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party regards it as part of its territory and has long vowed to “reunify” the island with the Chinese mainland, using force if necessary. Taiwan, a 23-million-person democracy, strongly opposes Beijing’s claims to the island.
Beijing has proposed a “one country, two systems” governance system for Taiwan, similar to that of Hong Kong, but it has been rejected by all of the island’s mainstream political parties, and it has received very little public support.
In a press conference on October 7, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning stated that the “Taiwan question is a Chinese internal matter.”
“China’s position on resolving the Taiwan issue is consistent and unambiguous.” “We remain committed to the fundamental principle of peaceful reunification and the concept of ‘one country, two systems,'” he said. “At the same time, we will resolutely oppose attempts to pursue the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist agenda, resist external interference, and protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Wang Ting-yu, a senior lawmaker for Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, slammed Musk. “Musk’s solution is based entirely on victim concessions,” he explained.
Musk’s remarks about Taiwan come just days after he enraged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by tweeting a “peace” plan between Russia and Ukraine, proposing that Kyiv permanently cede Crimea to Moscow and hold new referendums in Russian-annexed regions – this time under UN supervision.
“Which Elon Musk is your favourite?” Zelensky polled his Twitter followers using the platform’s poll function.
“One who backs Ukraine,” or “One who backs Russia.”