China Turns to Elon Musk as Technology Dreams Sour

China is adopting Techlash moment.

The country’s Internet giants, once celebrated as engines of economic vitality, are now despised for exploiting user data, Abusing workers And squeaking innovation. Jack Ma, co-founder of e-commerce titan Alibaba, is a fallen idol, along with his companies Under government investigation For the ways that have held onto the world’s second largest economy.

But there is one technical figure who has managed to get the Chinese public on his throne, for this time of blatant dreams and disillusionment seems to be a mix of tailor-made bomb-throwing and captain-of-industry bravo: Alice Musk.

“He can fight the establishment and become the richest man on earth – and avoid getting beaten in the process,” said Jane Zhang, founder and chief executive of ShellPay, a blockchain company in Shanghai. “He is expected of everyone.”

Out of hope, jealousy or morbid curiosity – like expecting the audience to see one of their rockets down Furious explosion – China cannot get enough of Mr. Musk. Tesla’s electric cars are huge sellers in the country, and the government’s growing space ambitions have led to a community of fans who track every launch of SpaceX.

Social platforms reveal with videos and articles whether there are billionaires of South African descent Trailblazer or fraud, And checked everything from her upbringing to her taste Beijing hot pot joints. His confidence in start-up founders vowed “First-Principle Thinking,” One who investigates problems at its most fundamental level and finds solutions. Stack of books Chinese writers have promised to uncover the secrets of “Silicon Valley Iron Man”, a nickname that stuck in China, not King of mars Or Rocket Man.

in Long thread about Mr. Musk On the question-answer site Zehu, a user named Monshake writes that most people are full of hope, but gradually accept the “mediocrity” that is their fate.

“Musk, just like a Superman, can move from mediocre to endless and toward the infinite, seeing the grandeur of the universe,” writes Moonske.

Another user in the same thread says that he named his son Elon to express his appreciation. The user did not respond to a message seeking further comment.

Tesla’s giant factory near Shanghai resumed production in 2019 and helped alleviate the company’s manufacturing woes. When in January Tesla’s share price rose a new one, making Mr. Musk the richest man on the planet, a Chinese fan Credit claimed. (Mr. Musk’s response to the news – “Well, back to work …” – was liked 22,000 times on the Chinese social platform Weibo.)

Later that month, as Mr. Musk Supports Run-Up in Gametop SharesThe play was called off due to mistrust of many large financial institutions in China.

“Occupy Wall Street can never be copied in China,” said Suzy Yan, an entrepreneur and investor in Shanghai. To do this, “you must have walked the streets,” he said. It is safe to buy opposing stocks.

The controversy of many Chinese technical workers for their industry has dampened their sense that it is no longer really inventions or innovations. While Mr. Musk is building the cars of the future and colonizing the universe, he sees the best-designed cellphone games of his generation, placing more advertisements on social media and figuring out speculation in real estate.

“Silicon Valley’s not crazy in China anymore,” Mr. Yan said. Tech bosses said “all cardboard cutouts have become,” he said, and investors won’t touch ideas that seem “crazy” from afar.

Mr. Musk’s wisdom is a sentimental bunch everywhere. But in China, his popularity has been helped by the authoritarian government Hug tesla – and vice versa – when the United States and China have never relied less on each other’s high-tech companies.

People in china Big surprise The way Mr. Musk handled the country’s tough officers. They are sometimes more critical of the ways they treat their own workers. He dropped out of California health officials last year Who demanded that a Tesla factory there remain out of Coronovirus concerns. The company has also come under scrutiny Workplace injury And racial discrimination.

“He is a real dreamer and creator, yet he is a cool, self-absorbed megalomonic,” said Hong Bo, a longtime technical commentator in China who writes under the name of Casco, Mr. Musk said. “I admire his courage in breaking with old conventions, and yet I dislike his yearning at the lower reaches of humanity.”

Mr. Musk and Tesla did not respond to emails requesting comments.

Despair with Big Tech is part of a widespread malaise in China. For many young people, decades of economic growth only result in fierce competition for opportunities, less stability, and less say on the direction of their lives.

On the Chinese Internet, the term that has captured the mood is “invaluation”, previously used by anthropologists to describe agricultural societies that grew in size or complexity without becoming more advanced or productive.

Biao Jiang, who studies social change in China and director of Max Planck, said there is a feeling among young Chinese people that they are struggling for a difficult opportunity for material gains. Institute of Social Anthropology in Germany.

In addition to criticizing the tech industry’s high-pressure work culture and gig economy’s labor abuse, young Chinese people are more confused by the huge impact that Internet platforms such as Alibaba’s bets on commerce and finance have on the Internet. Nevertheless, Professor Jiang believes that people in China have not turned against businesses that offer technological advances of a more tangible nature, which is why Mr. Musk’s industrial optimism still has appeal.

“They are not really against technology,” Professor Jiang said. “They are more against stage-style manipulation of social relations.”

China does not have a shortage of tech tycoons. It’s just that his career never seems to run without much trouble.

There is Justin Sun, the cryptocurrency whiz who Warren E. Paid $ 4.6 million to dine with Buffett but Apologize later For “excessive self-promotion”. Or Jia Yutting, who set out Best apple in smartphone And it is done Buried in debt. Mr. Ma of Alibaba also seems to have helped thwart the action against the government by speaking a little too openly at a program against him. Annoyance with regulators.

Nevertheless, Mr. Musk’s devil-may-care style would probably attract very little attention in China because they were not seen as an attempt to tackle major problems for civilization such as sustainable energy. In a country where most people have seen new technology bring about vast improvements in their lives, there is less information about the distant future than in the West.

Young Chinese people view Jack Ma and Pony Ma, the heads of social media giant Tencent, as “richer men and successful businessmen” than Musk-like visionaries, said Flex Yang, a Babel Finance, a Hong Kong provider Co-founder of financial services for cryptocurrencies.

Both Masses, which are not related, were only “in the right place at the right time,” Mr. Yang said.

Jack Ma and Mr. Musk Shared a forum At the Shanghai Tech Conference in 2019. There can never be a more mismatched pair than this. Mr. Ma was earnest and engaged, at least in the role of convention grand. Mr. Musk was Fiji and Joki. Both did a great job of speaking to each other properly. Mr. Ma said that the answer to superintending machines is better education for humans. At this, Mr. Musk merely laughed.

in Compilation of weird moments From the incident posted on the video site Bilibili, the comments are cruel, mostly to Mr. Ma.

“This is someone who was once seen as a god in China,” one person wrote. “In the presence of a real master, he is like a performing monkey.”

Alibaba declined to comment.

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