China warns Elon Musk not to share reports COVID was leaked from Wuhan lab 


Self-described ‘free speech absolutist’ Elon Musk has been warned by Chinese state media to back down from spreading claims on Twitter that the COVID pandemic originated in a laboratory in Wuhan.

State-owned Global Times warned Musk on Tuesday not to “bite the hand that feeds you”, according to a translation of a Mandarin idiom by CNBC reporter Eunice Yoon, who first spotted the post on WeChat.

Twitter’s new owner has proven useful for the regime thanks to his efforts to document collusion between Big Tech and the U.S. government to censor free speech through his Twitter Files.

This helped hand a propaganda victory to Beijing, with the same state publication declaring the United States to be “the biggest hypocrite in the world”.

On Sunday, however, Musk apparently crossed the line when he amplified tweets drawing attention to allegations the U.S. government altered a coronavirus found in bats at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, creating COVID-19 in the process. 

This is despite the fact that Twitter is officially blocked in China and requires a virtual private network to be accessed.

“Some may think @elonmusk made those remarks only to attack Fauci,” @globaltimesnews reads. But the posts he reposted “almost all link the origins of #Covid19 to China and the argument is repeatedly used by the US right wing and anti-China media hostile to China to frame #China.”

— Eunice Yoon (@onlyyoontv) February 28, 2023

Referring to unsubstantiated speculation that Anthony Fauci, ex-director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, indirectly oversaw the weaponization of the virus, Musk posted “he did it via a pass-through organization (EcoHealth).”

The narrative that COVID-19 resulted from experiments on Chinese soil directly contradicts the regime’s claim it most likely originated naturally, a claim it believes is substantiated through a joint WHO-China study conducted in early 2021. 

“Some may think Musk’s remarks were only attacking Fauci and did not name China directly,” the Global Times wrote on its official WeChat social media account on Tuesday. Yet the posts the Twitter and Tesla CEO forwarded all linked the source of the novel coronavirus back to China, it argued.

At a time when tensions are high following the scandal over a Chinese balloon shot down by the Pentagon, that tenuous connection is cause enough, according to the paper: “His remarks have been used by right-wingers in the U.S. hostile to China as well as anti-China media.” 

Musk relies on China to export Teslas around the world

Beijing’s regime is not one to tolerate lightly what it perceives to be transgressions.

When Mercedes-Benz used the Dalai Lama in a post on Instagram, a platform likewise blocked in China, the then-CEO of the German carmaker personally apologized

Musk, who has been quick to scold the U.S. government and even called a sitting President a “damp sock puppet”, has held his tongue when it comes to criticizing China.

That may be because Tesla, even more so than Mercedes, is heavily dependent on China both as a market and a manufacturing hub: GigaShanghai can build more than 750,000 vehicles a year, according to the company, equating to roughly 40 percent of its global installed capacity.

He did it via a pass-through organization (EcoHealth)

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2023

Beyond serving customers in the country, the factory also exports the Model 3 sedan to Europe, supplies the bulk of right-hand drive markets like the UK, Japan and India, and is the exclusive manufacturer of the standard range entry Model Y. 

Last year’s extensive COVID lockdown that paralysed GigaShanghai demonstrated just how crucial the plant is for Tesla’s health. In July, Musk confessed he sold the bulk of its Bitcoin holdings, since, in his words, “we were concerned about overall liquidity of the company.”

Shanghai became such a key hub for Musk’s operations, thanks in part to the country’s vast pool of low-paid manufacturing workers. 

Some regularly work 12 hour days under what’s called 996: from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week. On average they can earn the equivalent of about $13,500 a year.

“They won’t just be burning the midnight oil, they will be burning the 3 am oil,” he said in May. “They won’t even leave the factory type of thing, whereas in America people are trying to avoid going to work at all.” 

Musk has not issued a response to Global Times, but he has in the past backed down from his dogmatic approach to free speech, saying Twitter would allow it to the maximum extent allowed by local laws. On Tuesday, Twitter also issued new guidelines cracking down on violent speech.

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