Employees at some Chinese government offices have been told not to park their Tesla Inc vehicles inside government compounds due to security concerns over their cameras, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
The people said officials of at least two government agencies in Beijing and Shanghai have been instructed verbally by supervisors not to park their Tesla vehicles at work.
It was not clear how many vehicles were affected, the people said, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.
It was not immediately clear whether all government offices in Beijing had imposed such restrictions, nor whether the measure was a formal government injunction or a step adopted by agency officials.
It was also unclear whether curbs applied to state agencies nationwide.
While sensors and cameras that can assist driving feature in many automakers’ vehicles, the people with knowledge of the matter said the restriction only applies to Tesla vehicles.
Tesla vehicles in March were banned from entering some military complexes in China, sources told Reuters then, citing security concerns over their cameras.
Neither the Chinese State Council Information Office, which handles media requests for the Chinese government, nor Tesla officials in China immediately responded to requests for comment.
The restriction provides a fresh indication of China’s continued wariness of the US automaker amid tensions with Washington.
Facing greater scrutiny after safety and highly publicized customer service complaints in China, Tesla is boosting its engagement with regulators and beefing up its government relations team, industry sources said previously.
China, the world’s biggest auto market, is Tesla’s second-biggest market, accounting for about 30 percent of its sales. Tesla makes Model 3 sedans and Model Y sport utility vehicles at a Shanghai plant.
Automakers such as Tesla have been equipping more vehicles with cameras and sensors that capture images of the vehicle’s surroundings. Control of how those images are used, and where they are sent and stored, is a fast-emerging challenge for the industry and regulators around the world.
Tesla vehicles have several external cameras to assist drivers with parking, changing lanes and other features.
Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has commented frequently on the value of the data that Tesla vehicles capture, which can be used to develop autonomous driving technologies.
Days after the March ban on Tesla vehicles in military complexes, Musk appeared in a video at a high-level Chinese forum, saying that if Tesla used vehicles to spy in China or anywhere, it would be shut down.
Tesla said that it is planning to open a data center in China and is developing a data platform for the owners of its vehicles in China.
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