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Elon Musk praises Communist China again – here’s what he said

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
September 28, 2021

This weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk offered new praise for communist-ruled China, calling it the “global leader in digitalization.”

Musk offered the complimentary remarks in a virtual speech at the World Internet Conference, which is hosted by the Cyberspace Administration of China.

“My frank observation is that China spends a lot of resources and efforts applying the latest digital technologies in different industries, including the automobile industry, making China a global leader in digitalization,” Musk said in a pre-recorded interview-style video for the conference. “Tesla will continue to expand our investment and [research and development] efforts in China.”

Addressing concerns about user data in his remarks at the World Internet Conference, Musk said, “At Tesla, we are glad to see a number of laws and regulations that have been released to strengthen data management.”

“Tesla has set up a data center in China to localize all data generated from our business here, including production, sales, service and charging,” Musk added. “All personally identifiable information is securely stored in China without being transferred overseas. Only in very rare cases, for example spare parts orders from overseas, is data approved for transfer internationally.”

CNBC reported this is the second time Musk has offered complimentary remarks towards China in just a two-week period. During another pre-recorded video shown at the World New Energy Vehicle Congress in Hainan, China, Musk said Chinese automakers were the “most competitive in the world.”

Musk’s remarks towards China come as his company, Tesla, has been seeking to expand its investments in the country.

Tesla began construction on a new factory in Shanghai in 2019 but Musk’s electric car company has faced challenges breaking into the Chinese automobile market particularly amid concerns in China about the company’s handling of user data, as well as recalls affecting large numbers of Teslas produced in China.

In June, Tesla was dealt a significant blow by Chinese regulators who determined 211,256 locally produced Tesla Model 3 vehicles, 35,665 imported Model 3s and 38,599 more Chinese-made Model Ys would need to be recalled to address a safety issue. The decision affected nearly every Tesla Model Y owner in the country since the company began imports of the vehicle in January.

In a June 30 tweet, just days after the recall decision, Musk tweeted, “The economic prosperity that China has achieved is truly amazing, especially in infrastructure! I encourage people to visit and see for themselves.”

Musk has made other complimentary remarks towards China in the past. In 2019, following the start of construction on the Shanghai Tesla factory, Musk said, “To be totally frank, I’ve seen some crazy things so you know I think it’s like I really think China is the future.”