Musk says Beijing doesn’t want to sell Starlink to China: FT report

Elon Musk told the FT that Beijing does not want to sell its Starlink satellite internet service to China. In this image, Musk talks about Starlink at Mobile World Congress in June 2021.

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BEIJING — Elon Musk told the Financial Times that the Chinese government does not want to sell its Starlink satellite internet service to China.

“Musk says Beijing has made clear its disapproval of the recent installation of Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite communications system, in Ukraine to help the military bypass Russia’s internet blackout,” the paper reported in its latest column. Lunch with the FT”. published on Friday.

“He says Beijing has asked for assurances it won’t sell Starlink to China,” the article said.

The FT did not say whether Musk agreed to Beijing’s request. The business leader, who is CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Musk’s electric car giant Tesla relies on China for more than 20% of its revenue and has a large factory in Shanghai.

In contrast to the US and other countries’ condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year, China has refused to call the attack an invasion.

China has in recent years placed greater emphasis on the development of its own technology, including aerospace.

The domestic telecommunication giants, such as China Mobile and Huawei, have helped China achieve one of the highest 5G internet penetrations in the world.

In addition, China completed its own satellite communications system, Beidou, in 2020. The system competes with the US government’s GPS or Global Positioning System.

China’s Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The FT reported that Musk expects Tesla to be caught up in an “inevitable” conflict over Taiwan, but will still be able to deliver to customers in China.

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Beijing considers the democratically self-governing island part of its territory and has repeatedly stated its goal of peaceful reunification.

Musk said his recommendation “would be to create a special administrative zone for Taiwan that is reasonably palatable, probably not going to make everyone happy,” the FT reported.

Asked to respond to Musk’s recommendation in Taiwan, a Foreign Ministry spokesman in China said: “We remain committed to the basic principle of peaceful reunification and one country, two systems, and aim to work with the greatest sincerity and effort to achieve peaceful reunification.”

“At the same time, we will resolutely defeat efforts to pursue the separatist agenda of ‘Taiwan independence’, repel the interference of outside forces and safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the spokesman said Saturday at a regular press briefing.

Qin Gang, China’s ambassador to the US, thanked Musk for the idea in a tweet.

Read the full FT interview here.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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