Twitter and Tesla boss Elon Musk has posted on his Chinese Weibo account for the first time in four weeks, after promising to step down as chief executive of the US social media platform once he identifies a successor.
The 51-year-old billionaire posted a line on Weibo in both English and Chinese on Wednesday that said “caring more about words than actions does not bode well for civilisation”, without any context. Musk posted the same line on his Twitter account as a response to a story about Stanford University’s harmful language list.
The Twitter CEO recently conducted a poll on whether he should step down as head of Twitter, resulting in 17.5 million votes and a 57.5 per cent vote for “yes”. Musk said on Tuesday he would resign as soon as he finds “someone foolish enough to take the job” and he would concentrate on running the company’s software and server teams afterwards.
Musk’s fresh Weibo post resulted in hundreds of posts by Chinese netizens questioning the wisdom of Musk’s move to buy Twitter in the first place, and complaints about Tesla vehicles. Musk set up his Weibo account in 2014 and has over 2 million followers, and he typically posts about Tesla’s progress and topics related to renewable energy and artificial intelligence.
“What’s the purpose of buying Twitter then? Since it’s all words there,” said one Weibo user with the handle “Tianjinfan 1952”.
“Technically, Tesla is important, but humans also need a place to communicate, to debate, to understand each group,” said another user named “Xianju2021”.
“Can you focus on Tesla? No improvement, no new models, no localisation of Model X and S …,” said one top-voted comment under the post. “I think you should open a vote on Weibo regarding whether you should step down as Tesla CEO.”
Musk’s takeover of Twitter in October has divided opinion. As a champion of free speech, he has reinstated hundreds of accounts that were previously banned, including that of former US President Donald Trump.
However, he has also laid off hundreds of employees and was criticised for suspending the accounts of some journalists that the billionaire suggested had breached a recently created policy on sharing live location information. Some of the accounts were subsequently reinstated.
The outspoken Musk is a well-known entrepreneur within China, and was given the red carpet treatment by local officials when he opened his massive Giga factory in Shanghai in 2019. However, he is also seen by some in China as a potential national security threat due to his involvement with Starlink, a satellite internet constellation operated by Musk’s SpaceX.
Musk recently had a spat with Hu Xijin, the former editor of nationalist state tabloid Global Times, over comments related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, in August Musk commented in the official journal of China’s internet watchdog that he was happy to share his “thoughts on technology and humanity’s vision” with “Chinese friends”, seen by some as a nod in the direction of Beijing. South China Morning Post