Tesla isn’t looking at you any more than TikTok, or that’s what Elon Musk tried to assure China and other countries over the weekend.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the Chinese government is banning military personnel and employees of key state-owned companies from driving Tesla TSLA.
vehicles out of fear that the car’s exterior cameras, which constantly record, could collect sensitive images that would then be sent to the US government. Chinese authorities are also reportedly concerned that cell phones synced with cell phones. Tesla vehicles may compromise confidential contact lists.
Not so, Musk said while speaking via video link to the China Development Forum on Saturday.
“There is a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” he said. “If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, they will shut us down.”
“If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, they will shut us down.”
Musk compared those espionage fears to President Donald Trump who called Chinese-owned TikTok a threat to US national security last year.
“The United States wanted to shut down TikTok. Fortunately, it didn’t happen, ”Musk said. “A lot of people were worried about TikTok. But I think this kind of worry is unnecessary and we should learn lessons from it. “
The Chinese military ban on Tesla was reportedly issued “a couple of weeks ago,” an anonymous source told The South China Morning Post, after Chinese leaders were “very concerned” about the vehicles. A screenshot of an order banning Teslas at a military accommodation complex went viral on Chinese social media hours before Musk spoke on Saturday.
China is a huge market for Tesla. The electric vehicle maker sold 147,455 vehicles there last year, Reuters reported, accounting for 30% of Tesla’s global total. It faces increased competition from Chinese automakers Nio Inc. NIO,
and Geely 175,
however, and the same anonymous source told The South China Morning Post that Musk could visit the country next month.
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Musk has made some memorable visits to China before, such as his self-described “NSFW” dance at Tesla’s new Shanghai factory early last year, when he removed his jacket while dancing striptease on stage.