Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has refuted rumors that Tesla cars are used for spying purposes in China. Musk said his auto company would be shut down, and they wouldn’t be able to produce cars for the Chinese market anymore if Tesla cars were used for espionage in China.
The world billionaire made this assertion in response to news that Tesla cars were banned in military facilities in China because of the complexity of cameras installed in the electric cars. He made this statement while addressing participants at the China Development Forum program held on Saturday.
“There’s a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” Musk had said. “If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down.”
Musk told Xue Qikum, a Chinese quantum physicist and leader of the Southern University of Science and Technology that it is not in Tesla’s best interest to spy on the Chinese government and that both the United States and China should learn to trust each other to foster greater economic returns.
Tesla sold 147,445 electric vehicles in China in 2020 and the volume of sales in the Asian country represents 30% of the automaker’s total global sales last year. But then, the American auto company is facing increased threats from Nio and Geely which are two Chinese automakers that are gearing up to dominate the electric vehicles market in China.
Tesla manufactures and markets electric vehicles in China and Musk has been in the country several times where he met and discussed the future of EVs with Alibaba’s Jack Ma. He also reportedly spoke about the potentials of artificial intelligence and the possibility of Mars travel with Ma during his China trips in 2019, and it seemed the Alibaba founder was thrilled with these possibilities.
President Biden met with top Chinese government officials over the trade dispute between the US and China as established by former President Trump. However, Biden has not removed the trade restrictions put in place by Trump even though he is softer toward China. The current impasse between the two largest economies is certain to impact American businesses in China and Tesla may be caught in the cross-fire.
“At a moment of some white-knuckle tensions between the US and China, Musk & Co. find themselves in a unique position (along with Apple) of being caught in the crossfire,” said Dan Ives, a tech analyst with Wedbush.