- Tesla would be “shut down” if it spied on Chinese officials, CEO Elon Musk said, Reuters reported.
- “If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down,” Musk said.
- The Wall Street Journal reported China had banned some officials from driving the vehicles.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
CEO Elon Musk on Saturday said Tesla would be “shut down” if it used cameras and other technology in its electric vehicles to spy on Chinese officials, according to Reuters.
“There’s a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” Musk said on Saturday, speaking via video at the China Development Forum, an annual conference.
He added: “If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down.”
On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese officials had moved to limit its military and state staffers from driving Teslas. Chinese officials were reportedly concerned about the presence of cameras in the vehicles, which could potentially be used to spy on officials.
Reuters on Friday reported that Tesla vehicles had been altogether banned from Chinese military locations.
Chinese officials raised concern about Tesla following a February investigation by the country’s State Administration for Market Regulation, Nikkei Asia reported.
The investigation had focused on rapid acceleration, battery fires, and other safety concerns, according to the report. Regulators also sought information about whether Chinese user data collected by Tesla was removed from the country, according to Nikkei Asia.
On Saturday, Musk said there would be “negative effects” for Tesla if it was spying, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Whether it’s Chinese or US, the negative effects if a commercial company did engage in spying-the negative effects for that company would be extremely bad,” he said.
Musk’s comments came as tensions rose between the two countries, with President Joe Biden’s administration taking a hardline approach to US-China relations.
In Biden’s first official call with President Xi Jinping, the American president underscored his concerns about “coercive and unfair economic practices,” according to the White House’s official readout of the call.
Biden’s call came a few days after the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, called on China to end “abuses of the international system.”
At talks in Alaska on Thursday, Blinken had a heated exchange with China’s top diplomat.