Tesla Cars Are Banned in Certain Areas in China Amid Security Concerns

Tesla cars restricted from getting close to certain venues in China 9 photos
Photo: Tesla
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Tesla drivers are facing serious restrictions across China. Amid ongoing tensions between the US and China and spying concerns, the Teslas are banned from getting close to government-affiliated venues due to data security concerns. The impact of such measures on Tesla’s sales is yet unknown.
All over China, several government affiliates, local authority agencies, highway operators, and even cultural and exhibition centers have restricted access to Tesla cars. Such limitations were previously in force only in relation to military bases. But with Tesla becoming a key player in the Chinese market, the restrictions have been extended.

The latest on the list is the Grand Halls in the North Bund district in Shanghai. It is a conference center operated by a governmental enterprise. The venue hosts cultural events, banquets, and international exhibitions. Due to national security risks, all Tesla cars are banned from entering the ground of the venue, even if they are just passing through.

There were claims saying that, in case of a meeting at the Grand Halls, the participants will receive notice ahead of the event and will be inquired about the vehicle they are driving, mentioning that they cannot enter with a Tesla model.

However, China remains one of Tesla's biggest markets, with the United States in the lead. But BYD is chasing after the EV maker, having even surpassed the American automaker by unit sales in the fourth quarter of last year.

There are also Chinese cities that host major sports events that have imposed restrictions on Tesla drivers. For instance, during the World University Games that took place last summer, Tesla cars were blocked on some routes in Chengdu, according to residents who report on being rerouted or guided to park further from the location.

There are also reports of drivers of Tesla cars not being allowed to enter the parking area of a detention center in Sichuan province. A sign telling that the drivers of cars produced by the American automaker must park more than 50 meters away from the venue prohibits access. The news on the restriction was posted on WeChat by a local driver.

There are also posts on the Chinese social network Weibo, referring to Teslas being barred from entering certain areas based on data security risks.

Everything started last year when an airport in Yueyang, in Hunan province, temporarily restricted Tesla cars from entering its premises, claiming that the car's Sentry Mode could potentially expose sensitive information about the location, as reported by Japanese publication Asia Nikkei.

Sentry Mode does indeed allow owners of the vehicles to monitor the area where their cars are parked and detect suspicious activity. However, the data that this function collects is stored on a USB drive and is not accessible remotely by the owner or by Tesla.

Drop-offs and pick-ups carried out by Teslas are still allowed at the airport that serves a city with one million residents.

"All data generated by vehicles sold in China will be stored locally," Tesla representatives explained when opening a local data center in China in August 2023, in an attempt to reduce worries regarding potential information leaks. But apparently, that did not seem to work.

Tesla has been building cars in China for the local market as well as for export since October 2019 at its Gigafactory in Shanghai.
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