Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk said on Saturday that his company would shut down if its cars were used for spying, his first comments on news that China’s military has banned Teslas from its facilities.
“There is a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” Musk told a prominent Chinese forum during a virtual discussion. “If Tesla uses cars to spy in China or anywhere, they will shut us down.”
Sources told Reuters on Friday that the Chinese military banned Tesla cars from entering its complexes, citing security concerns about cameras installed in the vehicles.
Those restrictions came as top Chinese and US diplomats were holding a contentious meeting in Alaska, the first such in-person interaction since US President Joe Biden took office in January.
Musk urged greater mutual trust between the world’s two largest economies, in his remarks to the China Development Forum, a high-level business meeting is organized by a foundation under the State Council.
He was holding a panel discussion with Xue Qikun, a Chinese quantum physicist who runs the Southern University of Science and Technology.
In China, the world’s largest auto market and a key battleground for electric vehicles (EVs), Tesla sold 147,445 vehicles last year, 30% of its global total. However, this year it faces more competition from domestic rivals from Nio Inc to Geely.
Musk has made several high-profile appearances in China, where Tesla makes and sells electric vehicles. In 2019, he spoke about Mars and artificial intelligence with outspoken Alibaba founder Jack Ma.
At a delivery event last year for Chinese-made Model 3 sedans, Musk danced enthusiastically on stage, pulling off his jacket in what became a social media storm.