Recently, the theory that COVID-19 originated from a lab leak in Wuhan, China has surfaced again and is being discussed globally again. Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, has been warned by China against sharing this theory after he posted about it on social media. A Chinese state-run newspaper, the Global Times, warned Musk that he might be “breaking the pot of China,” similar to the idiom “to bite the hand that feeds you.” This message came because China is Tesla’s second biggest market and the EV manufacturer has an extensive factory and tech campus in Shanghai.
Elon Musk’s response on social media to the suggestions regarding Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former Chief Medical Advisor to US President Joe Biden. Allegedly Fauci had funded the development of COVID-19 through research at the Wuhan lab. Musk suggested that Fauci had brought in funds for research through a pass-through organization, EcoHealth. It was awarded almost $8 million in federal research grants to research bat coronaviruses in China.
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The U.S. Department of Energy and even the FBI reached a similar conclusion that the COVID-19 pandemic might have began in a Wuhan laboratory. However, these conclusions are not viewed as a huge surprise, because several similar theories have made the news before. The Chinese Communist Party or the CCP have received this development critically as it is a sensitive matter. CCP is critical especially now because it is looking for outside investments after several months of zero-COVID lockdowns that sparked nationwide protests.
Any missteps by Musk might result in a geopolitical issue that can hurt business on both sides. Tesla is in a specially privileged position in China, because its factory produced 711,000 cars last year i.e. 52% of the company’s worldwide output.