Musk replied: “China rocks in my opinion. The energy in China is great. People there – there’s like a lot of smart, hard working people. And they’re really — they’re not entitled, they’re not complacent, whereas I see in the United States increasingly much more complacency and entitlement especially in places like the Bay Area, and L.A. and New York.”
This does not come as a surprise to me. As discussed a year ago in The China-U.S. Cultural and Economic Connection, billionaires, especially tech billionaires, are really fond of China:
Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Tim Cook and other tech titans–due to the aforementioned cultural and economic reasons–have huge respect for China and Chinese people, and seek to open and expand business relations with China, and by transference, because many people on Reddit like Elon Musk, also like China too. Mark Zuckerberg reportedly knows Chinese. Elon Musk visited Beijing and Shanghai and on Twitter posted photos and praised China’s “energy and vigour”. Chinese employees and Apple fans went ‘wild’ after Tim Cook’s tour of Apple stores.
Such affinity for China has more to do with culture and politics than with China being a huge source of revenue for US-multinationals. China is perceived as having evolved beyond two-party politics, which is encumbering and inefficient, to a single-party technocracy, which is more efficient, possible human rights abuses notwithstanding. People who value competence and results, see the cultural divisions in America that arise from political and socioeconomic differences, as a waste of time and a hindrance to human progress. As evidence of such efficiency in the absence of politics, look how quickly China contained Covid, while Americans were (and still are) arguing over whether masks work or not.
One thing I have observed , that holds constant regardless of one’s position on the left-right spectrum, is that people who are really wealthy and or have a lot of social status and are successful professionally (particularly in high-IQ endeavors), almost without fail hold favorable views of China. Wealthy liberals and conservatives alike tend to hold China in much higher regard compared to the general US population.
The type of person who likes China (or at the very least impartial) is typically very wealthy and or successful in some sort of creative/tech/professional line of private sector work (not politicians), who has a high degree of personal satisfaction with life and is at the top or near the top of their social pecking order, and tends to hold somewhat libertine views of economics and culture (which is sorta baffling given that China is culturally and economically authoritarian). Thing guys like Joe Rogan. That is not many people though.
The Forbes 400 wealthiest list is as pro-China of a group as one can ever hope to find. Kanye West, Tim Cook, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. are infatuated with China. Isn’t Trump an exception to this? Possibly, but it is also possible that the views he expresses in public do not reflect how he actually feels about China in private.
However, approval for China falls precipitously in the second and third tiers of US society: the political-class and upper-middle class, who are not as wealthy as the first tier and are more critical of China. This reflected by polls and surveys that show record disapproval of China by Americans. According to a recent Pew survey, “73% of Americans hold unfavorable views of China.” That is not too surprising if support for China is highly correlated with high socioeconomic status. However, I would reckon that lowest classes are indifferent. Similar to the conditions leading up to the French Revolution, the second second and third tiers of society see their power and influence threatened by China and the highest tier. This could explain why Congress has repeatedly forced tech CEOs to testify, such as recently in regard to anti-trust concerns.