China ‘Bans Tesla Cars’ From Military, Government Facilities

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China reportedly bans Tesla vehicles from military complexes and sensitive industrial or government facilities over data-collection concerns

The Chinese government is reportedly banning Tesla electric vehicles from military complexes and telling staff of some key government agencies not to drive them to work, amidst other restrictions, citing national security concerns.

A directive advises vehicle owners to park the vehicles outside military property, several news agencies reported, citing people who had seen the notice.

Residents of military complexes were notified of the restrictions last week, ahead of China’s first high-level meeting with US officials since the Biden administration took power in January.

A separate report by the Wall Street Journal said Tesla use had been restricted for military staff and employees of key state-owned companies, following a government security review of the vehicles.

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Data concerns

The Journal report cited unnamed sources as saying the government had informed some of its agencies to ask employees to stop driving Tesla cars to work.

Tesla cars have also been banned from entering housing compounds for families of personnel working in sensitive industries, such as aerospace, and state agencies, the report said.

The concerns apparently focus on the numerous cameras and sensors built into Tesla vehicles, as well as their ability to access the contact lists of phones connected with the cars.

Tesla cars use several outward-facing cameras for navigation functions and also feature in-car cameras that are turned off by default.

The Chinese government is reportedly concerned that data collected by the cars could make its way back to the US, leaking national security information.

“Tesla’s privacy protection policy complies with Chinese laws and regulations,” Tesla said in a statement.

“Tesla attaches great importance to the protection of users’ privacy.”

Key market

The measures parallel restrictions placed on Chinese telecommunications equipment makers such as Huawei, which have seen the US and allied countries bar the use of such companies’ equipment in their networks.

US Chinese high-level officials clashed over such issues at a conference in Anchorage, Alaska late last week, indicating that tensions built up between the two countries over the past few years may not diminish any time soon.

China is a key market for US tech companies including Tesla and Apple.

Tesla opened its first overseas factory in Shanghai in 2019 and sold 147,445 cars in the country last year, or about one-third of its total deliveries.

Chinese regulators met with Tesla in February over consumer complaints about battery fires, unexpected acceleration and other issues.