Why China Is Calling Out Elon Musk

Elon Musk is sitting pretty among the world's wealthiest individuals, but his endeavors and wealth continue to make him controversial not only among individuals around the world but also the Chinese government. Musk may be on his way to becoming a trillionaire, but this mass amount of money, along with his alignment with prominent right-wing figures and his stances on taxes, make many apprehensive about him (via Politico). More specifically, as many fight for wealth distribution and higher tax rates for the rich, Musk continues to spend his money on space exploration.


Although he's known mostly as the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, Musk has business ventures many know nothing about. Still, it's the aforementioned companies that continue to garner buzz. Musk recently sold his Tesla stocks, earning him over $11 billion in taxes due to the U.S. government (via CNN). 

Musk and China may just be the new Space Race, the original being between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the 2nd half of the 1900s. Now, as SpaceX continues its exploration efforts and China maintains its space presence, the two have come into conflict.

Elon Musk broke outer space law, per China

Elon Musk being named 2021's Person of the Year had people seeing red as we close the year out (via TIME). Now, China is seeing red because of his 2021 space endeavors. According to People, the Chinese government spoke out because they had to employ "preventive collision avoidance control" two separate times this year — once in July and again in October — when SpaceX satellites came too close to the Chinese space station.


Concerns about these close encounters arose in early December when Beijing alerted the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs about them. According to The Washington Post, this came as a sharp reminder to Musk to not get too comfortable. Musk is loved by the wealthy elite in China for his visionary endeavors, but the Chinese government feels differently.

"The U.S. claims to be a strong advocate for the concept of 'responsible behavior in outer space,' but it disregarded its treaty and posed a grave threat to the safety of astronauts," Zhao Lijian, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a press conference. Lijian is referring to 1967's Outer Space Treaty that declared that no one country owns outer space and it must be shared equally.


Musk's satellites that caused these close calls are part of SpaceX's Starlink constellation, which is currently composed of 1,900 satellites, though the company aims to add thousands more soon (via the BBC). For now, tensions are mounting, but we can only hope that they settle.