Current and former officials involved in reviewing foreign investments say Elon Musk's planned purchase of Twitter should concern national security officials due to Tesla's links to the Chinese, according to The Washington Post.
The officials said that by dominating the supply of numerous components key to Tesla's success, China's government holds leverage over the wealth of Musk, the automaker's chief executive.
They say it potentially could convince China to ask Musk to identify opposition and American Twitter users, ban content China considers illegal or allow the communist government's propaganda to spread over the social media giant.
"Given the volume of information, the number of users that Twitter has, and the amount therefore of sensitive personal data that Twitter has, any foreign investment is likely to be closely scrutinized," said Richard Sofield, who led Justice Department reviews in the Trump and Obama administrations.
An unnamed official in the administration of then-President Barack Obama added that the potential access to user data alone is "clearly a significant national security concern."
The Post noted that Musk has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and that as chief of SpaceX, Musk has been vetted by the U.S.
But the newspaper maintained the potential influence by the Chinese over Musk is difficult to dispute.
Nearly half of Tesla's manufacturing in 2021 was done out of the company's Shanghai factory. Musk said last year China would become the biggest market for the cars.
Tesla, in a May impact report, said the direct sources for its batteries were mostly in China.
According to The Associated Press, Musk's ties to China as a result of Tesla, could add complexity to his bid to purchase Twitter.
"The Chinese exert tremendous leverage over businesses," said Anne Stevenson-Yang of J Capital Research. "If you care about the Shanghai operation [of Tesla], then you're going to put everything else in service to that."
Musk says he sees "no indications" Beijing might use Tesla as leverage.
But some U.S. intelligence analysts say their concerns about Tesla's links to China aren't enough to block Musk's purchase of Twitter.
"Twitter wouldn't be a 'foreign investment in the United States,' and it's a stretch to use that authority to examine it," Matthew Turpin, a former senior Commerce Department and White House China analyst, told the Post.
But a former Senate Commerce staffer said: "It's clearly a national-security sensitive asset, but you have to find the jurisdictional hook."
An attorney for Musk did not respond to emailed questions from the Post.
Jeffrey Rodack ✉
Jeffrey Rodack, who has nearly a half century in news as a senior editor and city editor for national and local publications, has covered politics for Newsmax for nearly seven years.
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