BEIJING (Reuters) – Tesla Inc chief executive Elon Musk said on Saturday his business would be shut down if its cars were used for spying, his first comments on the news that the Chinese military has banned Teslas from its facilities.
“There is a very strong motivation for us to be very confidential with any information,” Musk told a prominent Chinese forum in a virtual chat. “If Tesla used cars to spy in China or elsewhere, we would be shut down.”
Sources told Reuters on Friday that the Chinese military had banned Tesla cars from entering its compounds, citing security concerns with the cameras installed on the vehicles.
The restrictions came as top Chinese and US diplomats held a contentious meeting in Alaska, the first such in-person interaction since US President Joe Biden took office in January.
Musk called for greater mutual trust between the world’s two largest economies, in his remarks at the China Development Forum, a high-level business meeting is hosted by a foundation under the State Council.
He was holding a panel discussion with Xue Qikun, a Chinese quantum physicist who heads the Southern University of Science and Technology.
In China, the world’s largest auto market and a key electric vehicle (EV) battleground, Tesla sold 147,445 vehicles last year, 30 percent of its global total. However, it faces increased competition this year from domestic rivals from Nio Inc to Geely.
Musk has made several high profile appearances in China, where Tesla manufactures and sells electric vehicles. In 2019, he discussed Mars and artificial intelligence with outspoken Alibaba founder Jack Ma.
At a delivery event last year for Model 3 sedans made in China, Musk enthusiastically danced on stage, stripping off his jacket in what has become a social media storm.