Beijing warns Elon Musk ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you’ after the Tesla chief – who sells 40% of his cars in China – shared a post blaming Covid on Wuhan lab leak
Chinese state media has warned Elon Musk he risks damaging his relationship with China after the Twitter CEO responded to posts about the origins of the coronavirus.
Last week, Musk replied to a tweet speculating whether ‘Dr. Anthony Fauci funded the development of COVID-19’, citing research at a Wuhan lab.
Musk said: ‘He did it via a pass-through organization (EcoHealth).’
The Global Times tabloid posted on social media that Musk risked ‘breaking the pot’ of China, an idiom meaning ‘biting the hand that feeds you’.
Musk’s electric vehicle company Tesla has a factory campus in Shanghai and the Chinese market accounts for about 40% of sales.
Elon Musk this week regained his spot as the richest man on earth after a Tesla stock boost
Musk responds on Twitter to a post asking whether Fauci funded the development of Covid
The CCP’s tabloid, which runs under the party’s flagship paper The People’s Daily, snapped back at Musk for spreading a ‘conspiracy theory that slanders China’.
The paper said that while American scientists and virologists ‘despise’ their politicians, under the ‘instigation of right-wing conservatives’ the ‘matter’ [of Covid’s alleged leak from a Wuhan laboratory’ was ‘continuing to ferment in the US public opinion field’.
The extended post suggested the US Department of Energy had ‘cooperated’ with political forces ‘hostile to China’, with US media to ‘advertise a conspiracy theory about the origin of the coronavirus’.
It continued, suggesting Musk had moved closer to right-wing forces in the US, showing ‘a tendency to endorse these right-wing conservative values’.
The world’s richest man also made an apparently sarcastic remark last week in response to the US Energy Department’s conclusions.
Musk has been critical of Fauci in the past.
The allegations made against Fauci are nonetheless unfounded.
Musk wrote in December last year: ‘My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci’.
Interest in the origins of the coronavirus was stoked last week when the Department of Energy in the United States, which is responsible for a network of national research labs, said the most likely scenario was that Covid began in a Chinese laboratory.
The Department concluded with ‘low confidence’ the pandemic started with a lab leak.
This followed similar findings by the FBI in 2021, reportedly issued with ‘moderate confidence’.
The Chinese government, as well as many foreign researchers, has strongly denied that the coronavirus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
But the theory that a virus starting with bats, moving to an intermediary species and being passed on to humans has lost some support.
A translated part of the post from the Global Times, a Chinese daily and state-affiliated media
Elon Musk responds to a post suggesting the US Dept of Energy concluded Covid most likely arose from a lab leak. The Dept concluded this with ‘low confidence’
In November last year, sources told Reuters Tesla had plans for exporting made-in-China electric vehicles to the United States and Canada.
The US-based company was reportedly evaluating whether Model 3 and Model Y EVs could be sold in North America this year.
Sales of Chinese-made Teslas rose 18% in January 2023, a 10% climb year-on-year.
The Chinese market is Tesla’s second-largest but sales have reportedly started to dry up as competition grows among retailers.