In 2020, Chinese consumers spent more than $6 billion on Teslas, a figure that more than doubled the company’s 2019 China revenue.
But just because the world’s most notable electric is widely accepted in the Far East doesn’t mean the Chinese government doesn’t take to Tesla with a little caution.
A recent report suggests the Chinese government has concerns over how Teslas could impact state security, with Bloomberg citing sources who say the vehicles have been banned from military bases.
The Chinese military is said to be uneasy over the potential for a Tesla’s variety of cameras to record classified information. Reports point to Tesla’s dashcam, which can record up to 10 minutes, as well as its SentryMode function, which records incidents around vehicles and is typically used to prevent theft.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Tesla drivers are being forced to park their vehicles off-site from military bases as well as “key state-owned companies.” Some are being asked to stop driving their Teslas to work altogether.
Elon Musk responded to the reports saying, basically, that the risk of spying on China via Teslas would be a very, very stupid business mistake, and that for any company that engaged in such behavior, “The negative effects for that company would be extremely bad".
Musk added, "There's a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information," and “if Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down."
The reports come at a tense time between China and the U.S., and some are even speculating the allegations from China are retaliatory — the U.S. has, on several occasions, wrangled with Chinese companies over what the government considered to be security threats.