On Jeff Bezos' 'Did the Chinese just…' post on Twitter, a response…
Elon Musk Twitter: Roughly half the cars Tesla - founded in 2003 by Musk, who is also chief executive officer - sold globally last year were made at its plant in Shanghai.
China's foreign ministry has rubbished speculation it could pressure electric car manufacturer Tesla, Inc. to dictate content on Twitter. The denial - by ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, Reuters reported - comes hours after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' suggestive 'Did the Chinese just…' response to Elon Musk's dramatic $44 billion buyout of Twitter that was confirmed late Monday night.
Roughly half the cars Tesla - founded in 2003 by Musk, who is also chief executive officer - sold globally last year were made at its plant in Shanghai. China is also the company's second-largest market - according to New York Times reporter Mike Forsythe, whom Bezos re-tweeted - and it is home to companies that supply Tesla with batteries, leading to questions about what deal could mean for Twitter's China content policy given Tesla's reliance.
Forsythe's tweet said China's lack of control over content on Twitter - officially banned there (although there are workarounds) and replaced with the tightly-monitored Weibo - could now 'have changed' with Musk's purchase of Twitter.
Bezos re-tweeted Forsythe's post and wrote: "Interesting question. Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?"
The 'town square' reference was to Musk's first tweet after the Twitter purchase was confirmed. He wrote, "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…"
Bezos went on to offer some answers for the question he raised.
READ: What Amazon's Jeff Bezos said on Elon Musk, Twitter and the Chinese
"My own answer to this question is probably not. The more likely outcome in this regard is complexity in China for Tesla, rather than censorship at Twitter. But we'll see. Musk is extremely good at navigating this kind of complexity.
A Tesla spokesperson told Reuters the company has no comment.
Twitter did not immediately reply to Reuters' request for comment.
Musk calls himself a 'free speech absolutist' and has criticised Twitter's content moderation. Analysts expect his ownership will mean less moderation and the reinstatement of banned individuals, like ex US President Donald Trump.
With input from Reuters