Elon Musk’s business links to China spark concern among lawmakers, 2 months after Tesla opened its first showroom in controversial region

  • Elon Musk’s business interests in China are facing growing scrutiny in Washington.
  • Lawmakers fear China could access classified information, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Utah’s Chris Stewart said “anyone would be concerned if there are financial entanglements with China.”

Elon Musk’s business connections to China are at the center of conversations among lawmakers in Washington.

The Wall Street Journal reported that while SpaceX may not have direct ties to China, some Republican lawmakers are concerned China could gain access to classified information through the firm’s foreign suppliers, which may have ties to Beijing.

Human rights issues are also a concern. In January, Tesla was under scrutiny for opening a showroom in China’s controversial region Xinjiang, where the government has been accused of committing crimes against humanity.

The showroom opened a few weeks after President Biden signed a bill approved by Congress to ensure any imported products from Xinjiang weren’t manufactured with forced labor. 

Utah’s Rep. Chris Stewart told the WSJ that despite being a fan of Musk and SpaceX, “anyone would be concerned if there are financial entanglements with China.”

Musk’s lawyer Alex Spiro, Tesla, and SpaceX did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment. 

Insider’s columnist Linette Lopez previously wrote in an analysis that while Musk hasn’t broken any US laws by “launching Xinjiang on its electric journey,” it was as though he was spitting in the face of Washington by selling cars to the people who are profiting from the suffering of Uyghurs. 

The president of the Alliance of American Manufacturing industry body, Scott Paul, told BBC in January: “Any company doing business in Xinjiang is complicit in the cultural genocide taking place there. But Tesla’s actions are especially despicable.”

In 2019, Musk acquired cheap land in Shanghai. It has now become a Gigafactory where half of Tesla’s global deliveries in 2021 came from, Insider’s Huileng Tan previously reported

Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio told the WSJ in a statement that “any company operating in China is going to be pressured and exploited by the Chinese Communist Party.”

In December, Rubio urged his Senate colleagues to support his American Financial Markets Integrity and Security Act. If passed, it would prohibit US investment in Chinese companies that pose threats to America’s national security. 

While Tesla owns its factory, China still owns the land on which it is built, and its contract requires the company to generate a certain amount of tax revenue in order to stay on the land, Insider previously reported.  

Meanwhile, Tesla opened its first European plant in Germany last year, which had been built under a series of provisional permits.