China Welcomes VIP Superfan Elon Musk with ‘Great Fanfare’

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FRANCES MARTEL 31 May 2023

The Communist Party of China deployed Foreign Minister Qin Gang to meet car, space, and social media industry personality Elon Musk in Beijing on Tuesday, shortly after Musk’s arrival in the country.

The Chinese government effusively welcomed Musk and touted, through its social media arms, the mogul’s rejection of calls to shield the American economy from China’s slave-driven, totalitarian, and unreliable supply chains. The state-run Global Times described “great fanfare” in Beijing and on Chinese regime-controlled social media over Musk’s visit and quoted Musk himself as effusively praising the “intelligent and diligent” Chinese people.

Musk’s arrival in Beijing follows a series of disasters for his companies, including the combustion of a SpaceX Starship rocket minutes after takeoff, the leak of a trove of documents from car company Tesla indicating pervasive problems with “phantom braking,” and the embarrassing failure by Twitter to host a functional Spaces broadcast for the launch of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s presidential campaign.

Musk has yet to address any of the woes befalling his various companies during his China trip. The Chinese government has instead praised the CEO for continuing to invest in China and promote business with the Communist Party despite its long list of ongoing human rights atrocities. While many companies manufacture and invest in China, Musk has gone one step further by choosing to operate Tesla facilities in occupied East Turkistan, where China has been engaging in a campaign of genocide against indigenous populations for at least five years.

A Tesla being charged in Beijing, Tuesday, May 30, 2023. China’s foreign minister met Tesla Ltd. CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday and said strained U.S.-Chinese relations require “mutual respect,” while delivering a message of reassurance that foreign companies are welcome. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Chinese propaganda outlets declared the debut of a Tesla showroom in Urumqi, the capital of East Turkistan, a victory for Beijing over attempts by American lawmakers to prevent U.S. businesses from funding the Uyghur genocide or benefitting from state-sponsored slavery.

“If Tesla develops well in Xinjiang,” the Global Times speculated last year, “it will open a window for the international community to understand the real situation in Xinjiang [East Turkistan]. Just like a small needle can easily pierce a big balloon, the more people know the truth of Xinjiang, the more difficult it will be for Washington to continue its political scheme.”

“China’s development is an opportunity for the world. A healthy, stable and constructive China-US relation is beneficial not only for China and the US, but also for the whole world,” Qin, the foreign minister, said during his visit with Musk on Tuesday, according to the state-run Global Times newspaper. The outlet relayed that Qin promised Musk “China will continue to steadfastly promote high-level opening-up and is committed to creating a better market-oriented, legal, and international business environment for enterprises from various countries, including Tesla.”

The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, reported that Musk praised his relationship with China as “natural” and had no interest in protecting his supply chains from the chaos of Beijing’s draconian lockdown policies or its human rights abuses.

“Musk said the Chinese people are intelligent and diligent, and the development of China has been natural,” the People’s Daily reported. “He said the interests of the US and China are highly intertwined, and his company doesn’t support economic decoupling or moves that disrupt production and supply chains.”

Musk has previously used praise for “Chinese people” as a cudgel to condemn the American people.

File/A sticker advertising Dogecoin on a cryptocurrency automated teller machine (ATM) at a laundromat in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, June 9, 2022. (Paul Yeung/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“China rocks in my opinion. The energy in China is great. People there – there’s like a lot of smart, hard-working people. And they’re really — they’re not entitled, they’re not complacent,” Musk said in 2020, “whereas I see in the United States increasingly much more complacency and entitlement especially in places like the Bay Area, and L.A. and New York.”

“When you’ve been winning for too long you sort of take things for granted,” Musk he continued at the time. “The United States, and especially like California and New York, you’ve been winning for too long. When you’ve been winning too long you take things for granted.”

Slavery is pervasive in China, both as part of the Uyghur genocide in East Turkistan and in forced labor situations generally nationwide. The use of Uyghur slaves in Chinese factories across the country has become so endemic that American companies are struggling to find solar panels that comply with anti-slavery American import laws.

In his meeting with Qin, Musk did not express any concerns with Chinese labor violations, instead reportedly promising that Tesla would “further expand its business in China and share the opportunities brought by China’s development.”

“Musk said Tesla objects to ‘decoupling’ and is willing to further expand business in China, according to a statement published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday,” the Global Times relayed.

The state newspaper attempted to create the impression that regular Chinese citizens were mesmerized by Musk’s presence in their country, citing activity on Chinese-controlled social media. “Netizens” reportedly argued over which “Beijing delicacy” Musk should try while in town, settling on “douzhi, a fermented mung-bean drink.” During his last visit in 2019, the propaganda outlet recalled, “netizens” enthusiastically followed Musk’s adventures “eating pancake with crispy fried dough sheet, steamed buns with filling and hot pot in different Chinese cities.”

“China always welcomes business figures from all countries, including Mr. Musk, to visit China for a deeper understanding of the country and mutually beneficial cooperation,” Mao Ning, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Tuesday. “China is firmly committed to advancing high-level opening up and fostering a market-oriented, law-based and internationalized business environment. We welcome foreign companies to invest and do business in China, explore the Chinese market and share in development opportunities.”

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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