The American electric carmaker Tesla has been likened by rivals in China to a shark, a predator with an unfair advantage trying to eat up business. No nation has as big an appetite for clean-energy vehicles and the global market leader, with a major factory in Shanghai, has an overwhelming domestic share. But some officials like to think more in terms of catfish, an outsized scavenger whose presence is a powerful incentive to spur technology and innovation. Whatever the analogy, there is no disputing that the firm’s products are the benchmark for the competition and as such, it should show the way on customer service, standards and ensuring rules are followed. Authorities have reminded Tesla to comply with regulations and ensure the safety of consumers. Earlier, the company had apologised to the State Grid for wrongly blaming the national utility for damaging the power supply of one of its vehicles through a current overload. This followed complaints about battery fires and unintended acceleration among other issues. Tesla was given favourable terms to establish operations in China in 2018. Its sales on the mainland have since soared. Tesla’s value has been propelled ever-higher and its CEO, Elon Musk, is now one of the world’s richest people. China was also instrumental in making Apple the world’s most valuable company. Apple was able to take a dominant position in the market and became a model for domestic competitors such as Huawei and Xiaomi. Just as with Tesla, it was also reminded to adhere to standards and, in 2013, CEO Tim Cook apologised for not following local rules on warranties. Just as Apple spurred development of Chinese smartphones, Tesla is seen as a way for China to one day take a major share of the global electric vehicle market. Chinese start-ups including Nio, Xpeng Motors and Li Auto have just 10 per cent of domestic sales; the gradual cutting of government subsidies has increasingly levelled the playing field with Tesla, but they still lag on technology, software and price. China’s mammoth market is a big draw for foreign firms. But being allowed access also comes with obligations. There is no room for arrogance and customers must be properly served and regulations adhered to.