Elon Musk, the chief executive of the US electric carmaker Tesla, says his firm would be “shut down” if its vehicles were used for spying on China.
His comments came in response to reports that China’s military had banned Tesla cars from its facilities.
The military had raised security concerns about the info collected by cameras installed within the cars.
China is Tesla’s largest market after the US, accounting for a few quarters of the firm’s global sales in 2020.
On Saturday, Mr. Musk said if a business did engage in spying on a far-off government, “the negative effects for that company would be extremely bad”.
“There’s a really strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” Mr. Musk told an influential Chinese business forum via video link. “If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we’ll get pack up.”
There has long been unease about the presence of massive American companies operating in China and the other way around.
Relations between China and therefore the US – the world’s biggest two economies – are at their most strained for years.
Earlier in the week, officials from both countries traded angry words within the first high-level talks between the Chinese government and therefore the administration of President Joe Biden.
Mr. Musk urged greater mutual trust between China and therefore the US, where Tesla is predicated in California.
He sought to downplay concerns over companies sharing sensitive data with their home governments, referencing the case of the Chinese-owned video platform TikTok.
Last year, former President Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok within the US over concerns that users’ data might be handed over to the Chinese government.
“Even if there was spying, what would the opposite country learn, and wouldn’t it matter?” Mr. Musk said.
Elon Musk’s car firm won approval for its Shanghai factory in 2018, becoming the primary foreign automaker to work a wholly-owned plant in China.
China is that the world’s largest car market and its government has been heavily promoting the adoption of electric vehicles. This demand helped Tesla make a profit of $721m (£519m) in 2020.