“Has China gained influence in the town square” – Bezos takes aim at Musk-Twitter deal

Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos posed a provocative question after Elon Musk landed a $44 billion takeover of Twitter Inc.: whether it will make things difficult for Tesla Inc. in China .

In a series of tweets, Bezos drew attention to the electric vehicle giant’s close ties to China, the world’s biggest market for electric vehicles and home to Tesla’s first overseas factory. About half of the company’s cars sold globally last year were produced at its Shanghai factory, and Musk said that figure could double.

“Interesting question. Has the Chinese government just gained some clout in the town square?” tweeted Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post.

“My own answer to that question is probably no,” he added in a follow-up. “The more likely outcome in this regard is complexity in China for Tesla, rather than censorship on Twitter.”

A representative for Musk’s family office did not immediately respond to an after-hours request for comment.

Musk defended free speech on the platform in one of his first tweets after sealing the privatization deal. But Twitter – like most US social media platforms – is banned in China by officials who are wary of the impact on public discourse.

Tesla has exploded in China thanks in part to tax breaks, cheap loans and the green light to fully own its domestic operations. But last year the company came under fire after state media and regulators questioned Tesla’s attitude toward customers. Bezos’ company also operates in the country, but it is a distant competitor to local leaders Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and JD.com Inc.

-Bloomberg


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