Larry Kudlow, President Trump's economic adviser, suggested on Friday that China was stealing intellectual property and trade secrets from Apple, which may be contributing to the iPhone maker's financial challenges in the country.
However, he hedged a bit: "I don't want to surmise too much here, but Apple technology may have been picked off by China and now China is becoming very competitive with Apple," Kudlow said.
That was diplomatic of him. Because China is clearly taking Apple's IP and trade secrets and that fact is most certainly damaging the company's business.
This isn't a new problem, and companies know that, to some degree, it's the price of doing business in the world's second-biggest economy. Apple is at particular risk because of its large exposure to China and because of the country's increasingly sophisticated manufacturing sector. Last year, China's Huawei surpassed Apple in shipments of smartphones.
U.S. intelligence agencies and the Justice Department have laid out a long list of the types of concerted hacking and spying campaigns used by China to steal the IP of U.S. tech companies. China and its companies have strongly denied most of these claims over the years, making it hard for U.S. companies to take action. For example, a former Apple engineer was arrested in 2018 and charged with stealing self-driving car secrets. The engineer has denied the claims and pleaded not guilty in a California court.