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China is warning Twitter CEO Elon Musk against sharing posts that promote the lab leak theory of the coronavirus, suggesting that such commentary could hurt Tesla’s relationship with the company’s second-largest market.
The cryptic warning came on a social media post by the state-run Global Times newspaper. The writer was reacting to Musk commenting on a tweet that mentioned the Department of Energy’s conclusion that COVID-19 originated at a lab in Wuhan, China.
Elon Musk leaves the Phillip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Court House in San Francisco on Jan. 24, 2023. (AP Photo / Benjamin Fanjoy / File / AP Newsroom)
The original tweet, from the account "Kanekoa The Great," questioned whether Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was involved in the development of COVID-19 because he had funded "gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab."
"He did it via a pass-through organization (EcoHealth)," Musk responded, referring to the nonprofit group that was awarded nearly $8 million in federal research grants to study bat coronaviruses in China.
A World Health Organization team investigating the origins of COVID-19 arrive at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, on Feb. 3, 2021. (Hector Retamal / AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)
The Global Times warned Musk that he could be "breaking the pot of China." The saying is similar to the expression "to bite the hand that feeds you," according to CNBC’s Eunice Yoon, who was the first to report on the warning.
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As noted by the outlet, the electric vehicle maker maintains a factory campus in Shanghai – China is the company’s second-largest market.
The Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory is shown, March 29, 2021, in Shanghai. (Xiaolu Chu / Getty Images / Getty Images)
FOX Business has reached out to Musk and Tesla for comment.
The Department of Energy has recently concluded that COVID-19 most likely came from the Wuhan lab, according to the classified intelligence report cited by the Wall Street Journal.
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The so-called lab leak theory was widely dismissed as a conspiracy or "fringe" theory. It was labeled as "misinformation" by Democrats and major news outlets, and social media companies in the early stages of the pandemic suppressed the theory from being circulated.
Fox News’ Ashley Carnahan contributed to this report.