Elon Musk warns China’s economy could overtake US, says Americans must ‘stop punching ourselves in the face’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said this week that the US must “stop the infighting” in order to be competitive with China, warning that the world’s second-largest economy will someday dwarf America’s output.

“What we’re going to see with China, for the first time that anyone can remember who is alive, is an economy that is twice the size of the US, possibly three times the size of the US, and it’s going to be very weird living in that world,” Musk told hosts of the “All-In” podcast on Monday evening.

“So, we better stop the infighting in the US and stop punching ourselves in the face. There’s way too much of America punching itself in the damn face, it’s just dumb, and think about, hey, ‘We gotta be competitive here,” Musk continued.

“There’s a new kid on the block that’s going to be two to three times our size. We better step up our game and stop fighting.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks in China

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at an opening ceremony for Tesla China-made Model Y program in Shanghai, China January 7, 2020. (REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo)

The total economic output of the United States was about $23 trillion last year, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. China’s GDP, meanwhile, was about $17.1 trillion, according to the nation’s National Bureau of Statistics.

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When asked on Monday by “All-In” host Chamath Palihapitiya about how to deal with politics in the workplace, Musk said Americans CEOs should focus on their business.

“The point of a company is to produce useful products and services for your fellow human beings,” Musk said. “It is not some political gathering place.”

Tesla Shanghai China Musk

Aerial view of Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory at night on October 22, 2021, in Shanghai, China. (VCG/VCG via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Tesla, which is headquartered in Austin, Texas, has extensive operations in China.

Chinese customers purchased about half of the 935,222 vehicles that Tesla sold last year, and Musk has said that he sees China as being responsible for a 25% to 30% of Tesla’s market long term.

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Tesla also became the first foreign automaker to open a factory in China when they broke ground on a giga factory in Shanghai in early 2019.

Some analysts have suggested that Beijing may try to leverage Tesla’s presence in China to manipulate Musk’s anticipated control of Twitter, but the electric vehicle pioneer shot that notion down last week, saying at an event hosted by the Financial Times that he’s seen “no indications to that effect.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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