Friday 19 March 2021 5:40 pm

Chinese military bans Tesla cars from housing complexes over security concerns

The Chinese military has banned Tesla cars from entering its housing complexes because of security concerns over the cameras installed on the vehicles.

The order issued by the military advises Tesla owners to park their cars outside military property, two people who saw notices of the directive said. Residents of military housing were notified of the ban this week, they added.

Elsewhere, the Wall Street Journal reported that China’s government was restricting the use of Tesla cars by personnel at military, state-owned enterprises in sensitive industries and key agencies, as they could be a source of national security leaks.

It was not immediately clear whether the measure applied to all such facilities.

China’s State Council Information Office and┬áTesla┬ádid not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment. China’s defence ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.

Pavel Molchanov, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates, said the latest restrictions on Tesla were a close parallel to the US government’s hostility towards Huawei on concerns that Beijing could have access to U.S. telecoms infrastructure.

“Even if such concern is exaggerated, it can create dislocation for the companies directly affected,” he said.

Tesla cars have several small external cameras to assist with parking and self-driving. Its Model 3 and Model Y also have cameras embedded in the rear view mirror for driver safety that are disabled by default.

The Chinese military’s restrictions on Tesla surfaced as senior Chinese and U.S. officials held a contentious meeting in Alaska, the first such face-to-face interaction since US President Joe Biden took office.

The restrictions follow a government security review of Tesla’s vehicles, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the effort. Chinese officials found that Tesla car sensors could record visual images of surrounding locations, it added.

It was not clear whether the decision was related to heightened US-China tensions. But the military’s apparent concerns underscore a broader challenge for automakers.