Tesla is no longer watching you than TikTok – or so Elon Musk tried to insure China and other countries over the weekend.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the Chinese government is banning military personnel and employees of key state-owned companies from driving Tesla
Vehicles fear that the cars' outside cameras – which are constantly recording – could collect sensitive material that would then be sent to the US government. Chinese authorities are also reportedly concerned that cell phones synchronized with Tesla vehicles could compromise sensitive contact lists.
Not so, Musk said when speaking to the China Development Forum via video link on Saturday.
"There is a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with information," he said. "If Tesla uses cars to spy in China or elsewhere, we will be shut down."
"If Tesla uses cars to spy in China or elsewhere, we will be shut down."
Musk compared such espionage fears to President Donald Trump, who last year described the Chinese-owned TikTok as a threat to US national security.
“The US wanted to close TikTok. Luckily it didn't happen, ”said Musk. “A lot of people were concerned about TikTok. But I think that kind of worry is unnecessary and we should learn from it. "
China's military Tesla ban was allegedly enacted "a few weeks ago," an anonymous source told the South China Morning Post, after Chinese leaders became "very concerned" about the vehicles. A screenshot of an order to ban Teslas in a military housing complex went viral on Chinese social media hours before Musk spoke on Saturday.
China is a huge market for Tesla. Reuters reported that the electric vehicle maker sold 147,455 vehicles there last year, which is 30% of Tesla's total worldwide. The Chinese automaker Nio Inc. is facing increased competition.
However, 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 – such as his self-described "NSFW" dance at Tesla's new Shanghai factory earlier this year when he took off his jacket while doing a striptease-style shimmy on stage.