Why is state media praising Elon Musk for ventilator donations?

On March 6, Elon Musk tweeted: “The coronavirus panic is dumb,” and he has continued to make public statements skeptical of social distancing, which most experts recommend as a key part of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

But that hasn’t stopped him from contributing to the U.S. effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus — with China’s aid. Reports broke Monday that Musk had purchased 1,255 ventilators from China and shipped them to Los Angeles.

The move won him further support from the Chinese media. The Global Times China reported (in Chinese) that Musk “thanked Tesla’s China team and Chinese customers.” Sina also emphasized (in Chinese) that Musk had publicly thanked Chinese customs authorities for expediting the ventilator shipment to California.

Why the emphasis on Musk’s gratitude? Apart from China’s preexisting admiration for Musk, state media and social media users are noting the U.S. government’s weakness, which forces the country to “only rely on corporate giants” to provide basic medical equipment. 

On the Party’s attitude toward gratitude, see also: Thank the government for controlling the virus? No, they should be thanking us, on Caixin.

—Caroline Stetson