China’s Military Ban on Tesla: Killing Two Birds with One Stone

China’s military ban on Tesla vehicles could be part of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s recent tough diplomatic stance against the United States, and can also be used to limit Tesla’s expansion in China to boost local brands, according to two China experts.

A March 19 notice about Tesla vehicles being banned by China’s army was circulated on Chinese social media, but soon got deleted.

It says, “Upon inspection and actual testing, Tesla brand vehicles are found to be equipped with a series of technical devices such as omnidirectional cameras, ultrasonic sensors, etc. These devices can expose the location of the target. In order to ensure the absolute safety of military secrets, and to prevent potential threats, vehicles of this brand are prohibited from being driven into or parking at the [military] staff and family building compounds. We will also conduct routine inspection of vehicles inside the compounds and hope that every household will cooperate.”

The Wall Street Journal confirmed that the Chinese regime is restricting the use of Tesla vehicles by military staff and employees of important state-owned enterprises. The data collection ability of the vehicles is the main concern and was reviewed as a national security threat, according to unnamed people familiar with the matter.

The source told The Wall Street Journal that Chinese officials believe that cameras in Tesla vehicles can record images and obtain data including when, how, and where the vehicles are being used, as well as the contact lists of mobile phones synced to them. Beijing is concerned that some data could be sent back to the United States.

A Tesla representative told Bloomberg that none of the in-car cameras in Teslas sold in China are turned on or part of the Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta trial and that Tesla’s privacy policies comply with national laws and local regulations in China.

Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk also responded to the security concern on March 20 at the China Development Forum. He said, “If Tesla uses its cars to spy in China, we’re going to have to shut down and go out of business. So we have a strong motivation to ensure users’ privacy.”

Current affairs commentator Shi Shan told The Epoch Times that the security concerns about Tesla are just an excuse for the CCP.

“These Tesla features did not just become available now, and the so-called ‘threat’ did not just emerge today. Why wasn’t the Chinese Communist Party worried before? Why did the CCP only raise this issue now? It is obviously part of the CCP’s recent tough diplomacy on display.”

Industrial Copycats

Mike Sun, a private investment consultant in the United States, told The Epoch Times that the purpose of the CCP bringing in Tesla is just like what they did to the iPhone. They will use Tesla and Apple technology and industrial chains to support China’s local manufacturing industry.

Tesla entering into the Chinese market has driven the development of China’s local electric vehicle brands such as NIO, Li Xiang One, and XPeng (also Xiaopeng Motors).  Now that these manufacturers have matured, the CCP does not want Tesla to continue to grow and expand.