TAIPEI — Taiwan lashed out at the US tech billionaire Elon Musk on Thursday for "blindly flattering" Beijing after he called the self-ruled island "an integral part" of China.
Beijing claims Taiwan as its own territory awaiting "reunification" and has intensified pressure since independence-leaning Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen came to power in 2016.
Musk drew Taipei's ire for comparing Taiwan to the US state of Hawaii in a podcast and calling the island "an integral part" of China.
Musk "blindly flatters China and if (his) comments are made out of commercial interests, such comments are not worthy of being taken seriously and the speaker does not deserve respect," Foreign Ministry spokesman Jeff Liu told reporters.
"We don't know if Musk's free will is for sale but Taiwan is not for sale, that's for sure," he said.
Taiwan's foreign minister Joseph Wu earlier criticized Musk in a post on X, the platform formerly branded Twitter which the tycoon owns, suggesting he ask China's ruling Communist Party to open it to people in China.
"Hope @elonmusk can also ask the #CCP to open @X to its people," Wu said. "Perhaps he thinks banning it is a good policy, like turning off @Starlink to thwart #Ukraine’s counterstrike against #Russia".
Musk said last week he had blocked a Ukraine attack on Russian warships in the Black Sea last year by turning off internet access to Starlink, his satellite-based communications system.
Musk has sparked anger in Taiwan before, most recently in May for saying China will inevitably integrate Taiwan.
"The official policy of China is that Taiwan should be integrated... One does not need to read between the lines," he told CNBC in an interview.
"There is a certain inevitability to the situation," he said.
The outspoken Musk, who has extensive business interests in China, frequently wades into social and geopolitical issues in comments he posts on his social media platform.
© Agence France-Presse