By on March 19, 2021

The Chinese military has decided to ban all Tesla vehicles from housing complexes and bases after citing them as a potential security risk. Since the cars use an array of ultrasonic sensors and cameras to create a panoramic view used for advanced driving features, China is concerned the American brand could use the cars to covertly map out sensitive areas. 

According to Bloomberg, the new guidelines stipulate that all Tesla owners park vehicles outside all military facilities. While the official sources for those claims were left anonymous, Chinese social media did see residents of military housing make mention of the rule change earlier this week. The Wall Street Journal likewise reported that government agencies have asked staff not to drive Tesla models to work anymore.

From Bloomberg:

The order, issued by the military, advises Tesla owners to park their cars outside of military property, according to people familiar with the directive who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The ban, relayed to residents of military housing this week, was triggered by concerns that the world’s biggest maker of electric vehicles is collecting sensitive data via the cars’ in-built cameras in a way the Chinese government can’t see or control, one of the people said.

Images of what was purported to be a notice about the ban were also circulating on Chinese social media. Multi-direction cameras and ultrasonic sensors in Tesla cars may “expose locations” and the vehicles are being barred from military residences to ensure the safety of confidential military information, the notice said.

Tesla has always discussed its camera system as essential for advanced driving capabilities, with Elon Musk suggesting they also have security applications. But it hardly seems reasonable to point the finger at the brand when practically every automaker is outfitting their own products with the same kind of sensing equipment and the connectivity to theoretically broadcast that information anywhere there’s an internet connection. For our purposes, that just means more complaints about customer data rights and privacy violations. But China’s been perpetually concerned with informational warfare and had been trying to position itself favorably against the United States.

We’re wondering if this is just the start of something more serious. China has made it abundantly clear that it wants to become the dominant global superpower by 2028 and has begun mobilizing its military against American allies. Numerous analysts have also suggested China and the U.S. are already engaged in economic and political warfare. That doesn’t bode well for the future of American firms hoping to sell cars (or anything else) within the region. Additional restrictions seem unavoidable if relations between the two countries worsen.

Meanwhile, we’re still wondering why so few people are relaying these types of privacy concerns to the private sector. Governments around the world are talking about data protection and how to restrict the flow of information online via national security laws. But hardly anyone is issuing those same concerns to the automakers that are putting driver-facing cameras into cars that can track your every move.

[Image: B.Zhou/Shuterstock]

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50 Comments on “Report: Chinese Military Bans Tesla Vehicles From Facilities...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    GM-SAIC cars are still welcome though since PLA knows GM couldn’t figure out how to use them to spy.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    China is right to have this concern. But as you point out, lots of vehicles are being fitted with sensors and cameras these days. Interesting dilemma.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      +1
      And not just vehicles. Cellphones with GPS, mics and cameras; camera aided robovacs; smartwatches…

      It’s a losing battle. Probably fundamentally so: Richer and richer sensors are growing smaller and smaller and cheaper and cheaper, hence further and further sub human-scale every day. Even signal jamming at sensitive locations is no panacea, since memory to deal with intermittent signal loss, is getting smaller and cheaper as well.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        China knows how much valuable intel they have amassed from Chinese-manufactured computers, cell phones, and numerous other tech products. They don’t want us to have that info about them.

        Their government is controlling, totalitarian and all-encompassing. The freedom that we enjoy is real, and greatly misunderstood and underappreciated.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The US would do the same if Tesla were a Chinese company. [Shrug]

  • avatar
    dal20402

    If only China had the slightest vestige of a free press to report this, this would be fantastic publicity for Tesla in China.

    As is, it’s probably good publicity for Tesla in the US.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    So Elon Musk is “M.” Knew it all along.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    “We’re wondering if this is just the start of something more serious. China has made it abundantly clear that it wants to become the dominant global superpower by 2028 and has begun mobilizing its military against American allies,”

    Who’s we? I haven’t read anything of the sort about China wanting to become the dominant superpower by 2028. And I keep up on this stuff. If you really mean some dipsh*t Yankee spy/State Dept employee/CIA tea leaf reader SAYS they “think” China feels this way, then sure, the bureaucrats serving the paranoid plutocracy of America might put this story about. China hasn’t. Or you invented it yourself, like your rubbish opining on the state of Chinese medicine and construction ability in the past. You have no clue on politics based on your past blurtings, and are a complete dope on the subject in my view, Posky.

    Now it’s not that I like China. Those people have imprisoned two Canadians on trumped-up charges for two over years, allowing no consular or legal representation. The country has rejected Canadian food like canola seed and pork as well, because we arrested a top executive of Huawei on US charges, and she’s been awaiting an extradition hearing to the USA on some charge or other. China has treated Canada like dirt. That’s real. Your fa la la scribblings are just uninformed rubbish.

    If I were the Chinese I’d be wary of Teslas as well. So far as Musk is concerned, his Autopilot never causes an accident and he keeps the constant data stream the cars send out all to himself. Why, he’s perfect in his minds’s eye.

    When you get some national following as a credible political commentator, Mr Posky, then I’ll stop sending you these love letters. In the meantime, talk about some cars for a change, would you? Thanks so very much.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “So far as Musk is concerned, his Autopilot never causes an accident”

      According to the NHTSA and the definition of SAE Level 2 autonomy*, it never has. Musk’s assertions are correct.

      * Level 2 requires the driver to be attentive at all times. By definition, Autopilot doesn’t even have to work.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      you don’t know that China is executing 100-year world domination plan?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        It’s clear the Chinese considered themselves a sleeping tiger up until about 2016, and that they’ve taken the failures of the Trump administration COVID as an opportunity to show the world that they’re not so sleepy anymore.

        What happens next is anybody’s guess, but we as a nation had better get our stuff together. We can start with power grid reliability in California and Texas.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Yes, and according to China, they don’t steal IP. If musk’s autopilot causes accidents, I bet those chinese products do as well, and at a strikinhly similar rate.

    $#!+heads

  • avatar
    mcs

    I wonder if the chinese military worries about a US 5th column roaming their highways? Troop transports getting attacked by marauding bands of Teslas.

  • avatar

    It is simple: China is our enemy #1.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “It is simple: China is our enemy #1.”

      Nope…replace “China” with “ignorance”.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Lou_BC,

        everything you say is as far from reality as it is possibly can be. This is normal for America, which produces one uneducated generation after another. Frankly, Americans at working at the cash registers today can’t give back change properly if you pay cash. This is very unfortunate. I feel sorry for you.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “This is normal for America, which produces one uneducated generation after another. ”

          We have some of the best universities and medical schools in the World. I met several of my son’s college classmates from places like Germany, China, and Japan. If our education is so bad, why are other countries sending their kids to schools here?

          As far as giving change goes, the US isn’t a 3rd world country. When we pay for something, we hold an NFC-equipped phone to a terminal to pay for something. I’m willing to bet US kids probably wouldn’t know how to shoe a horse either. That doesn’t mean they aren’t educated. There are also plenty of job opportunities for educated youth so you’re aren’t as likely to find a math major operating a cash register like you might find in a crumbling, impoverished, 3rd world country like Russia.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            mcs,

            you’re living in the passed. American universities used to be good. But now they teach nothing.
            For example, I constantly interview young people who just had completed college degree in the field of the interest to our company. I have not found one who possessed a decent knowledge of the basics we require. We found several gems, those who were self-achievers while not having the degree in this field. We hired exactly 0 young “talent” because they don’t qualify for junior positions.

            We have a million of college-degreed young people waiting tables. Chinese, and other come here to study because US schools are still better than those in India, or China. But our schools also welcome them because they pay full tuition.

            And I don’t know why are you so focused on Russia? I never held Russian citizenship. Although calling 6th PPP economy in the world, a 3rd world coutry – interesting approach, may be also result of American education. If Russia has issues, I am sure that part of the reason is that American universities and companies have thousands of Russian professors and engineers who could positively affect Russia if they worked there. It makes me angry that famous Ukrainian historian teaches history at Boston universities, appears on PBS TV and writes books in English, while in Ukraine some phony “professors” teaching people some false history.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            If we’re not teaching anything, then no one else is either. Look at any independent ranking of universities in the world, at at least the top 15 to 20 are American or British. You start finding Chinese schools in the next 20, but you won’t find any schools in the ex-Soviet or Warsaw Pact bloc until well into the second 100.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            dal,

            you don’t understand, do you? All these schools bring world’s big-name professors and hence the ratings. US universities were flooded by those “badly educated” scientists as soon as USSR allowed them to leave. I know this intimately. In one Harvard lab there were no American scientist in sight. All were from the Eastern block.

            You need to look at this as practical matter. Whatever the university ratings are, how many countries build nuclear power plants, jet engines, or new fighter-jet, or nuclear submarines? Who makes computer processors? And factor #2 – countries like US and UK have Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Russian, EU engineers in their labs. In Russia most are locals, maximum some Kazakhs, Ukrainians

          • 0 avatar

            What Slavuta is trying to convay is that American Universities are teaching students from Asian countries.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            ” economy in the world, a 3rd world coutry –”
            It absolutely is a 3rd world country. Once you get past the facades, there is crumbling infrastructure everywhere and people living in squalor. Lots of unemployment and abandoned structures everywhere. It’s a cleptocracy. Lots of money for the few, but the rest of the population suffers.

            “I know this intimately. In one Harvard lab there were no American scientist in sight. All were from the Eastern block.”

            What lab is that. I work with several labs at Harvard and MIT and that’s not the case. Plenty of Americans. Visually, they may not look like Americans to you, but they are.

            “I have not found one who possessed a decent knowledge of the basics we require.”

            Your basic requirements might be something archaic that no one teaches. Especially given your earlier remarks about “making change”. I have close ties to Universities and work closely with grad students. I’ve mentored engineers out of those schools. I don’t know what you are talking about. You could be looking for PHP or pascal programmers. Maybe visual basic. Sure, some of them certainly need more development, but that’s what good grad programs are all about. You can’t learn everything in just 4 years. Even then, I’m not going to reject someone that excelled in MIT 6.111 (one of its toughest courses and they will actually warn you if you go to sign up for it) because they can’t make change. Sometimes in computer science, you might learn the basics to start with, but then use standard libraries after that and forget about what’s going on inside them. I care more about problem-solving abilities and drive.

            And, by the way, the worst engineer I ever met at Harvard was Russian educated. Took months to clean up his mess. Then again. one of my favorite engineers was Russian. The guy overbuilt everything in a good way. Loved his work.

        • 0 avatar
          Old_WRX

          slavuta,

          “This is normal for America, which produces one uneducated generation after another”

          Nobody does political naivete like us ‘Merkins. You can tell a ‘Merkin exactly what is going on, and, even if they seem to hear you, a couple of hours later it’ll be like they never heard it…

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            Old_WRX,

            here is the deal. Somebody took not a perfect country like USA but one with huge potential and one that was on the right track, and turned it into [email protected] US biggest virtue was freedom. For example, in USSR people did not have freedom to operate their personal business. Not always. Fun fact but during bloody dictatorship of Stalin, 6% Soviet industrial output was coming from so-called Artels – small private manufacturing shops. (Khrushchev closed all that down). People did not have freedom to have political views different from the ruling party. People did not have full freedom to visit other countries [some people could].
            USA was viewed as full-freedom country. And this is what made it so attractive to the masses. But today, you’re right, you can tell 7th generation American – hey our freedom has eroded – they don’t care. Because we, immigrants, know how this is. Important is the bottom line – does not matter who rips the book, KGB or Amazon. The fact remains the same – in USSR government decided what you can or can’t read and here [today] amazon, eBay, book store, twitter, etc decide this for you.

            you said
            “You forgot to mention the over-the-top bombing of North Korea”

            Well, ok. Lets remember that US in Korea was acting on behave of UN. And the N.Korea attacked first. Moreover, South Koreans treated their commie brothers not any better than Germans treated Poles. S.Koreans were executing commie sympathizers without any due process. Later, in Vietnam, S. Koreans operated with US as “killing squads”, literally murdering entire villages. And Someone is going to tell me about NKVD. NKVD was “butterflies on the walls” organization vs many other events. NKVD wasn’t making rules, they did what they were told, kind like Guantanamo Bay for US. US soldiers were told that this is a terrorist, and NKVD was told that this is enemy of the people. NKVD was also fighting on the frontlines and uncovered spy networks. NKVD was scary and abusive. But not entire NKVD was bad and not every officer there was a murderer or torturer.
            I have a parallel here. Just like FBI is used today by politicians to go after their opponents, NKVD was used by the regime to go after their opponents. To me, the bottom line is important. And the bottom line is, if FBI charges you 20 years in jail for walking into a Congress, this is Stalinesque. “Enemy of the people” during Stalin’s rule was getting 10 years.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            Old_WRX

            even Bill Maher somewhat reverse-woking:

            “Taking on “woke” demands. @BillMaher says it reminds him of Hollywood’s “blacklists” where now “people go to parties” and “don’t want to talk, they are like ‘can I talk? I don’t know your girlfriend, she might be woke.’” It’s “so Soviet” and “Stalinist.””

            Oh, this ‘merkin is… Biden-woke now?

      • 0 avatar

        “Nope…replace “China” with “ignorance”.”

        What difference it makes?

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I answered to Lou in another post that he is a commie. And he just totally came from closet.
      But I have to give it to China. They do the right things if they want to be a dominant country, or even civilization. While US does everything to shoot itself.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Dude I’m not from the Eastern Block but I am well versed in the events 1917 to present in the region and I’m here to tell you Lou is a good man and no Bolshevik Communist. You are no doubt well aware of the numerous extra-judicial NKVD murders 1917-53, gulags, Holodomor, Katyn massacre, war crimes of postwar occupation etc. but all carried about because extremist statist psychopaths were allowed to seize control. Like minded groups still exist and are in unfortunate positions of power but save the hate for where it belongs. A reasonable person is one who may have different views than yourself, but can discuss them in a reasonable discourse – which describes Lou to a “t”. Please consider doing the same.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          28,

          again, you’re telling one sided story. You pick a scapegoat – NKVD. How about 1945 Czechoslovakia when Czechs simply murdered 450,000 their co-citizens of German ethnicity and let them rot on the sides of the roads? How about Polish, who murdered Jews who returned from concentration camps? Who built the first concentration camps? – same Polish who starved captured Russian POWs in them after 1919 war. How about US bombings of Japan. I am not talking about nukes. Firebombings, where US was deliberately devastating civilian Japanese population and killed nearly 1,000,000. How about Japanese who threw Chinese babies up into the air and caught them with bayonets.

          And you keep coming with things like “Holodomor” even that we know that the word itself originated in US and Canada in the 1970s. And you’re using it to refer to the events of 1930 of which you [obviously] know only partial, taken out of context information.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @28-cars-later Thanks. Much appreciated.

            @slavuto
            Looks like I struck a nerve.
            Kremlin trolls or anyone spreading dis/misinformation will struggle in an arena of knowledgeable people. Political discourse is stiffled by ignorance.
            Racism is stiffled by knowledge.

            I’m a centrist that accepts the best ideas of various political ideologies.

            China is a totalitarian regime similar to Russia.

          • 0 avatar
            Old_WRX

            slavuta,

            You forgot to mention the over-the-top bombing of North Korea by the US during the Korean war. I believe that one was one of the highest percentages of a population ever killed in a war. Of course, the US also “liberated” Korea from Japanese occupation after WW II — replacing it with US occupation…

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          28,

          also, you’ve mentioned Katyn – good. And I’ve mentioned Russian POWs in Polish concentration camps. An I want you to know that Katyn was Stalin’s vengeance for the 1919 war and treatment of POWs who were starved to death. And how many? – about same 20,000 as in Katyn.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I vaguely remember reading about the period after 1917 during the Russian Civil War and a number of other conflicts fought in modern day Poland and thereabouts around that time, and this history is not well known in the West. Never had occurred to me Katyn was payback for something earlier, the common consensus in postwar Western history is Katyn was about eliminating future leadership in a Polish army.

      • 0 avatar
        cdrmike

        Show us on this commie doll where the bad American hurt you.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I-L-O

      I tell you even more. Today China has 3x scientists over US. American research is dying also. To find funding is incredibly hard. Best scientists even from China used to stay in US after completing their Phds. Today, they might still complete Phd here and immediately go back where super advanced labs are waiting for them. Some research that is done here is also done by Chinese with their funding.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        “Best scientists even from China used to stay in US after completing their Phds.”

        We used to be welcoming to highly educated immigrants. But the recent xenophobic administration has done everything it can to encourage them to take their knowledge back to their countries of origin rather than staying here. I wish we would keep more foreign PhDs and professionals and hope the current administration will encourage it.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          dal,

          xenophobia has nothing to do with it. They get better labs and better funding outside of the US.
          Don’t you think this is pathetic – Lockheed and Boeing can’t complete their part of the new US space program, while S.African (with NASA funding) did better than 2 giants.
          China is now building their own space station.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            “They get better labs and better funding outside of the US.”

            From personal experience, that’s not true. With friends, family, and myself involved in research, there’s abundant funding if you’re doing something worthwhile. The only case where I’ve seen people have funding issues was if they were creating something that was extremely low profit. If there’s no money in it, sure, you’re screwed, but you might still get government funding. Otherwise, money is there for the taking. The private equity guys are practically begging to invest in anything they think they can make a profit with. They don’t like it if you tell them 10 years, but otherwise, they’re like vultures.

            BTW, the South African guy you talk about was Canadian (BTW, a vastly underrated source of engineering talent) and American educated. His company and success are a product of the US entrepreneurial culture.

            Sure, Europe has the Max Planck institutes, Eindhoven, Uppsala, Umea, Karolinska, and others, but I definitely wouldn’t say their labs and funding are better than here.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      ILO, check what I found

      Sergei Kapitsa: “Mathematics is what Russians teach to Chinese in American universities.”

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “Today China has 3x scientists over US.”

    …And China has close to 5x the population.

    My comment about ignorance isn’t specifically about post secondary education.
    You can view it as an indictment of the whole primary, high-school and to a degree, post-secondary education system. Conventional media and social media are massive contributors.

    We don’t teach people to search for the truth which would help overcome our natural tendency to seek validation. The quest for validation is easily manipulated by enemies, con-men, sales, and PR.

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      Lou_BC,

      “You can view it as an indictment of the whole primary, high-school…”

      I’ll say this. When I was a wee lad in the 60’s not one person got through the sixth grade without knowing how to read, write and do some arithmetic. The elementary school I went to was nothing fancy and the student body was quite mixed. There were kids from upper middle class educated families and kids from poor first generation immigrant uneducated families. There was nothing fancy about the education — it mostly just taught the basics. Now, it appears slews of kids never learn the prosaic three R’s. They have fancy theories — including all this new nutso race stuff — but, they aren’t even minimally literate. Pathetic.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @old-WRX – Schools do need to teach the basics as you have said but they also need to teach dispassionate critical thinking. They need to teach logical problem solving. That includes learning how our own biases shape our thoughts and perceptions.

        A good example is history may be factual but it’s written from the viewpoint of the victor, the dominant group writes the history books.

        Just like many in the dominant group believes this: “including all this new nutso race stuff”.

        You just made my entire first point for me.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “I have not found one who possessed a decent knowledge of the basics we require.”

    Based on your posts, it must be hard to find Russian troll farm operatives that are fluent in English and USA culture.

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