Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, said on Saturday that if his company’s cars were used to spy, the company would be shut down, making his first remarks in response to reports that China’s military has barred Teslas from its facilities.
During a virtual chat, Musk told a popular Chinese forum, “There’s a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” “If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we would get shut down.”
The Chinese military has barred Tesla cars from entering its complexes, according to Reuters, citing security fears over cameras mounted on the vehicles.
These constraints were revealed during a tense meeting in Alaska between top Chinese and US diplomats, the first such face-to-face meeting since US President Joe Biden took office in January.
In remarks to the China Development Forum, a high-level market meeting organized by a foundation under the State Council, Musk urged greater shared confidence between the world’s two largest economies.
He was speaking on a panel with Xue Qikun, the president of the Southern University of Science and Technology in China.
Tesla sold 147,445 cars in China last year, accounting for 30% of its global total. China is the world’s largest automotive market and a major battleground for electric vehicles (EVs). However, domestic rivals ranging from Nio Inc to Geely are posing a greater threat this year.
Musk has made a number of high-profile appearances in China, where Tesla both manufactures and sells electric vehicles. In 2019, he spoke with Alibaba’s outspoken creator Jack Ma about Mars and artificial intelligence.
Musk danced happily on stage last year at a delivery event for China-made Model 3 sedans, taking off his jacket in a social media storm.