Elon Musk, who has described himself as a “free speech absolutist”, has written a magazine column for China’s online censors.
In the column, Musk celebrates his own businesses – in particular SpaceX, Tesla and Neuralink – while setting what he says is “a better future for humanity”.
It does not mention his conflict with Twitter, which is suing him after he backed out of a $44bn deal to buy the platform.
Musk initially said he wanted to buy Twitter because of how much he valued free speech– something which runs counter to the work of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s online regulator.
The billionaire claimed he was invited by the magazine to contribute his “thoughts on the vision of technology and humanity”, which included founding a self-sustaining city on Mars.
“Any area that contributes to a sustainable future is worthy of our investment,” he wrote.
“Whether it’s Tesla, Neuralink, or SpaceX, these companies were all founded with the ultimate goal of enhancing the future of human life and creating as much practical value for the world as possible.
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- Elon Musk
“Tesla to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, Neuralink for medical rehabilitation, SpaceX for making interstellar connections possible,” he added.
The billionaire has long taken a softer stance towards the Chinese government than he has towards the authorities in the US, whom he has repeatedly criticised when their actions conflict with his business interests.
While he described COVID-19 lockdowns in the US as “fascism” he held his tongue about similar moves in China, despite them being much more draconian and also impacting production at Tesla factories.
Unlike in the US, Mr Musk’s business in China is conducted at Beijing’s discretion.
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He is not the only technology magnate who has attempted to woo Beijing.
Apple’s Tim Cook, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Google’s Sundar Pichai have all attempted – with varying degrees of success – to get on the good side of the Chinese Communist Party.
Commenting on the column for Bloomberg News, Kendra Schaefer said: “If Musk isn’t sitting in front of a congressional committee within a year being grilled on his relationship with China, I’ll be flabbergasted.”
When he initially explained the motivation behind his $44bn takeover of Twitter – which he is now engaged in a legal fight to back out from – Mr Musk said: “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.”
At the time, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos asked whether the deal would give China “a bit of leverage” over the platform.