Taiwanese diplomat says democracy ‘not for sale’ after Tesla CEO suggests handing some control of island to Beijing.
China’s ambassador to the United States thanked Elon Musk for proposing a special administration zone for Taiwan, while Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Washington reprimanded the billionaire saying its “freedom and democracy are not for sale”.
“Taiwan sells many products, but our freedom and democracy are not for sale,” Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Washington, tweeted on Saturday. “Any lasting proposal for our future must be determined peacefully, free from coercion, and respectful of the democratic wishes of the people of Taiwan.”
Days after floating a possible deal to end the war between Russia and Ukraine that drew condemnation in Ukraine, Musk suggested tensions between China and Taiwan could be resolved by handing over some control of Taiwan to Beijing.
“My recommendation . . . would be to figure out a special administrative zone for Taiwan that is reasonably palatable, probably won’t make everyone happy,” Musk told the Financial Times in an interview published on Friday.
Musk was responding to a question about China, where his Tesla electric car company operates a large factory.
Beijing, which claims Taiwan as one of its provinces, has long promised to bring Taiwan under its control and has not ruled out the use of force to do so. Democratically-ruled Taiwan’s government strongly objects to China’s sovereignty claims and says only the island’s 23 million people can decide its future.
In tweets posted on Saturday, the Chinese ambassador wrote: “I would like to thank @elonmusk for his call for peace across the Taiwan Strait and his idea about establishing a special administrative zone for Taiwan.”
“Actually, Peaceful reunification and One Country, Two Systems are our basic principles for resolving the Taiwan question … and the best approach to realizing national reunification,” he added.
“Provided that China’s sovereignty, security and development interests are guaranteed, after reunification Taiwan will enjoy a high degree of autonomy as a special administrative region, and a vast space for development,” the ambassador wrote.
China has offered Taiwan a “one country, two systems” model of autonomy similar to what Hong Kong has, but that has been rejected by all mainstream political parties in Taiwan and has very little public support, especially after Beijing imposed a tough National Security Law in Hong Kong in 2020.