Skip to content

Next China: Trolling Musk

Elon Musk speaks during an event at the site of the company's manufacturing facility in Shanghai on Jan. 7, 2019.

Elon Musk speaks during an event at the site of the company's manufacturing facility in Shanghai on Jan. 7, 2019.

Nothing like the world's richest man being trolled by the second wealthiest.

After Elon Musk clinched a $44 billion takeover of Twitter, Jeff Bezos took to the social media platform to draw attention to Tesla's close ties with China, wondering out loud if Beijing will seek to use it to its advantage.

“Interesting question. Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?” tweeted Bezos. “My own answer to this question is probably not,” he added in a follow-up. “The more likely outcome in this regard is complexity in China for Tesla, rather than censorship at Twitter.”

Musk will certainly have to walk a fine line between being a champion of free speech as he says he is and not alienating China, which has banned Twitter along with other American social media platforms. “Lao Ma,” as Musk is affectionally known by his fans in China, has benefited from the support of the Chinese government, which provided all types of assistance to help Tesla build a Gigafactory in Shanghai that supplied half the company’s cars sold globally last year. China is Tesla’s most important market outside the U.S., accounting for more than a quarter of revenue last year, when sales more than doubled to $13.8 billion.