TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) on Wednesday (Sept. 13) rebuffed Elon Musk's claim that Taiwan is an "integral part of China" and noted Beijing's blocking of his social media platform X (formerly Twitter).
During an interview on the "All In Podcast," Musk was asked given the change in U.S. policy toward Beijing where he thinks relations are headed from the perspective of a CEO with multiple business relationships in China. Musk denied having many business ties in China beyond his Tesla car sales and factory, but claimed to have an understanding of China based on his meetings with senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders over the years.
Musk claimed that the crux of strained relations between Washington and Beijing is Taiwan. He said that for over half a century Beijing's policy has been to "reunite" Taiwan with China.
The tech tycoon then purported that the conflict between China and Taiwan is "analogous to Hawaii or something like that." He then alleged that Taiwan is an "integral part of China, that is arbitrarily not part of China."
Musk then claimed that Taiwan has yet to "reunite" with China mainly because the U.S. Pacific Fleet has "stopped any reunification effort by force." He warned that China's military strength is increasing every year while U.S. military might in the region is "more or less static."
He argued that it is difficult to defend Taiwan because it is very close to China's coast. Musk predicted that there will be a point in the "not too distant future" when Chinese military strength in the region far exceeds that of the U.S.
Musk said, "If one is to take China's policy literally and probably one should, ... force will be used to incorporate Taiwan into China." He then cited the CCP stance that if a diplomatic solution cannot be reached, "there will be a solution by force."
He predicted that the U.S. and China are preparing for a "potential showdown" in the South China Sea. He said this is why the U.S. is increasingly limiting tech exports to China.
Musk believes that China will respond with retaliatory sanctions. He then forecasted tit-for-tat reciprocal sanctions by the two countries in the coming years.
He concluded that whether there is a diplomatic solution to "reunification" or a non-diplomatic solution, "(China) has made it clear there will be a solution."
Michael Sobolik, a senior fellow in Indo-Pacific Studies at the American Foreign Policy Council, at around 8 p.m. on Wednesday uploaded a segment of the interview showing Musk's response to the question on China. Sobolik wrote that Musk claimed to have a strong understanding of China, yet erroneously compared Taiwan to Hawaii.
Sobolik then criticized Musk for "repeating CCP talking points with no mention of US interests."
At around 11 p.m. on Wednesday evening, Wu retweeted Sobolik's post and started by calling on Musk to "ask the CCP to open X to its people." Referring to Musk's refusal to allow Ukrainian forces to use Starlink to launch an attack on Russian forces in Crimea last September, Wu said, "Perhaps he thinks banning it is a good policy, like turning off Starlink to thwart Ukraine's counterstrike against Russia."
Wu closed by suggesting Musk "Listen up" and declared that "Taiwan is not part of the PRC and certainly not for sale!"
Former deputy national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and China expert Steve Yates retweeted Sobolik's post at 9 p.m. on Wednesday. He pointed out that it is not possible to have a deep understanding of China simply by meeting CCP leaders over the course of years.
Yates said that this was "Kissinger's fatal flaw," which has since been repeated by national, corporate, media, and academic leaders in the years since. Yates described the CCP as "a mafia" and stressed that, "It is not China and Taiwan is not part of it."
.@elonmusk, on @theallinpod: “I think I understand China well…”— Michael Sobolik (@michaelsobolik) September 13, 2023
Then proceeds to compare Taiwan to Hawaii: “an integral part of China that is arbitrarily not part of China”
He’s repeating CCP talking points with no mention of US interests. pic.twitter.com/93V6lCOuVR
Hope @elonmusk can also ask the #CCP to open @X to its people. Perhaps he thinks banning it is a good policy, like turning off @Starlink to thwart #Ukraine’s counterstrike against #Russia. Listen up, #Taiwan is not part of the #PRC & certainly not for sale! JW https://t.co/HEhyTYYXFp— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) (@MOFA_Taiwan) September 13, 2023