When Washington politicians can’t see motive, Beijing hopes to have interaction with the US’ most influential businessman
By Timur Fomenko, a political analyst
Twitter proprietor and Tesla CEO Elon Musk went on a tour of China this week. It was his first go to to the nation since 2019, after a hiatus in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Musk met with China’s overseas minister Qin Gang, earlier than later assembly Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang. Throughout these conferences, he mentioned his Tesla manufacturing facility in Shanghai for electrical vehicles, in addition to the Lithium battery provide chain.
Though in apply it was all about enterprise, the political symbolism of the journey on either side is unmistakeable. Beijing didn’t preserve Musk’s go to low-key nor go away it by the wayside, however positioned it on a megaphone and amplified it aggressively via its media channels. It needed the world to know very clearly that not solely was a significant American tech determine and entrepreneur on the town, however was partaking with its leaders.
When was the final time an American politician or official visited Beijing and bought such a reception? Whereas not discounting the truth that few will achieve this for political causes, even those that do, be it Anthony Blinken or Wendy Sherman, are given a frosty and hostile reception. The truth is, for the reason that “spy balloon” incident in the beginning of the 12 months, China has even gone so far as placing high-level communications with the US on ice fully. The refusal to satisfy with US Secretary of Defence Llyod Austin on the Shang-ri-la dialogue in Singapore, is one such instance.
However that doesn’t imply China isn’t serious about partaking with the US in any respect. Somewhat, China sees partaking with American politicians as a waste of time, and as a substitute sees higher political achieve in utilizing excessive profile people resembling Elon Musk to drive sensible and results-based engagement. Apple CEO Tim Prepare dinner additionally performed the same journey to China earlier this 12 months. What’s the function and message? Regardless of surging tensions and uncertainties, Beijing continues to see the American enterprise group, who are usually not Anti-China by nature of what they do, as its finest wager.
Proper now, US politics is in a race to the underside regarding China. The environment of US overseas coverage debate is lethally poisonous, misplaced in a maelstrom of paranoia, irrationality and mass hysteria over Beijing. Politicians compete to shout the loudest on who can vilify China, search to often provoke tensions over issues resembling Taiwan, and naturally lock the controversy by accusing anybody who questions their narrative as being tender on Beijing. This has created an echo chamber which has made it unattainable to enhance relations on a political degree.
However the enterprise group is completely different, as a result of American corporations see monetary alternative in China and its market, one thing they’ve engaged with for over 40 years. Behind the scenes, businessmen try to foyer politicians to make sure their pursuits are preserved, even when they aren’t having a lot luck on the subject of China, and this has made them maybe the one constant voice in opposing the anti-China rhetoric pushed by Washington DC over the previous few years. Whereas after all they’re compelled to ponder the political dangers of engagement, an element they can not management and that politicians can use to coerce them, they’re a moderating voice of motive.
And on that premise, somebody like Elon Musk is essential. Though his political viewpoint could be very proper wing, and he’s after all South African, relatively than American, it’s plain that he has established himself as one of the vital influential businessmen within the US proper now, and happily for Beijing he has an open thoughts and amicable perspective in direction of China. In taking management of Twitter, one of many world’s most influential social media platforms, Musk has pursued a coverage of free speech which has rolled again anti-China measures applied by its predecessor CEO Jack Dorsey.
It’s no shock given these elements that China has made a political present out of courting Musk, realising figures like him can not directly “steer” the US-China relationship in direction of safer floor and set a precedent for different businessmen too, sending the message that regardless of every little thing that is happening China remains to be open for enterprise. In doing so, Beijing sees the co-opting of the enterprise group as a important drive in resisting a “decoupling” push by the US, in addition to what it describes as a “Chilly Conflict mentality” and due to this fact a moderating issue. If politicians have turn into fully unreasonable, that is the response.
This paradoxically has made Musk extra very important to the US-China relationship than America’s ambassador himself, Nicholas Burns. Thus, whereas China is politically infuriated on the US proper now, it isn’t giving up hope that in lots of areas, engagement with the US can nonetheless be in its basic pursuits.
The statements, views and opinions expressed on this column are solely these of the writer and don’t essentially characterize these of RT.