Republican leader and US presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy expressed concerns over Elon Musk's discussions with Chinese ministers on the Tesla CEO's first trip to the country in over three years. Mr Ramaswamy claimed that China was using prominent American business leaders as puppets to "advance their agenda".
Elon Musk, during an audience with China's Foreign Minister on Tuesday, announced that he will expand his business in the country. He also praised China's "vitality and promise" on Wednesday.
The billionaire used his sit down with Foreign Minister Qin Gang to voice opposition to the US decoupling from China, saying the interests of the two countries were intertwined, according to a government statement.
Calling Musk's remarks deeply concerning, Mr Ramaswamy said, "It's deeply concerning that Elon Musk met with China's foreign minister yesterday to oppose decoupling and referred to the U.S. & Communist China as "conjoined twins." Tesla's VP in China reposted that statement on Weibo in China, but curiously not here in the US."
The Republican leader also said that prominent US businessmen driving Beijing's agenda tilt the scales in China's favour.
"That tilts the global scales of perception in China's favor – and sadly, it's working. The US needs leaders who aren't in China's pocket, yet Biden is just another embodiment of that same problem," he said in a tweet.
Musk's first visit to China in three years comes as Tesla faces intensifying competition from Chinese-made electric vehicles and some uncertainty about expansion plans for the Shanghai plant.
Musk, who has previously suggested Taiwan could be run as a special administrative zone of China, has enjoyed significant official support for his Shanghai-based Gigafactory. Tesla contributed almost one-quarter of Shanghai's total automotive production value last year, and local authorities pledged earlier this month to boost ties with the company through autonomous driving and robot modules.
The Tesla chief's unannounced trip is the latest by a major US CEO to China since the country reversed its zero-COVID policy and reopened its borders. Apple's Tim Cook visited in March, while JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon and Starbucks' Laxman Narasimhan are also in China this week.