Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has spent time cementing himself in the world of American space exploration — all while cozying up to Chinese communist officials.
Earlier this month, Elon Musk spoke at a technology conference hosted by the Chinese government, the latest in a long history of the Tesla co-founder palling around with the authoritarian communist government.
This comes as Musk is cementing his position in America’s space industry, receiving credit from top officials including President Donald Trump last month for SpaceX’s successful rocket launch. But Musk’s ties to China could raise national security concerns.
The conference Musk spoke at was the World Artificial Intelligence Conference, organized by the Chinese government. Musk has spoken at the conference before.
Musk’s previous conference trip to China, in 2019, came just days after President Trump ordered American companies to leave China.
While Musk’s ambitious business proposals often hit regulatory walls in the U.S., China has been welcoming them with nothing but open arms. Seven months ago, the Tesla CEO made a trip to China for the groundbreaking ceremony of Tesla’s first overseas plant, the 9.3 million-square-foot Gigafactory 3, in Shanghai. And in just a few weeks, he will visit the country again—this time to be the face of its burgeoning artificial intelligence scene.
Many of his current Chinese partners, like ATC CEO Zeng Yuqun, are embedded in the Chinese government (Yuqun serves on the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the advisory body to top leadership).
Tesla Inc. needs to succeed in China if it wants to dominate the world of electric cars—especially in a post-virus world. To do that, Elon Musk is turning to a battery engineer who once helped Apple Inc. extend the life of its MacBook laptops.
Zeng Yuqun, 52, built Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. into China’s battery champion in less than a decade, creating the largest global producer of rechargeable cells for the plug-in vehicles considered to be the future of cars. That effort has helped propel Zeng from a modest hillside village and $30-a-month job with a state-run company to an estimated $17 billion fortune.
Musk cannot simply work with Chinese businesses and businessmen and expect the Communist government – which is currently “reeducating” millions of Uighur minorities in concentration camps – not to be involved.
“The Chinese Cyber Security Law and other national strategies like ‘Military-Civil Fusion’ mean that nothing Chinese firms do can be independent of the state. Firms must support the law enforcement, intelligence, and national security interests of the Chinese Communist Party,” warns America’s most senior military leaders.
Musk’s operations in China, carried out under the watchful eye of the Communist regime, put all of those that use his technology and data at risk – including the U.S., its military, and its space program.