One of Donald Trump’s economic advisors said on Friday that China may have stolen trade secrets from Apple.
Larry Kudlow, head of the National Economic Council, told Bloomberg that undisclosed Apple technology may have been “picked off by China,” which may have allowed domestic manufacturers in that country to become more competitive.
Kudlow made clear that he has no sure evidence that China actually stole trade secrets from the Cupertino tech giant, but his admittedly vague comments hint that U.S. officials believe that might be the case.
“There are some indications from China that they’re looking at that, but we don’t know that yet,” Kudlow told Bloomberg. “There’s no enforcement; there’s nothing concrete.”
The economic advisor didn’t add any additional context or information about the situation, however. But his comments do suggest that the U.S. government is aware of some type of Chinese investigation into Apple technology.
Those comments come just a few days after Apple slashed its revenue guidance for the 2018 holiday quarter. In a note to investors, CEO Tim Cook attributed the revised guidance to weaker-than-expected sales performance in China.
Some of that could be tied to a weakening economy in the country and ongoing trade tensions between China and the U.S. But it’s also worth noting that Apple has also lost market share in China due to the rise of domestic manufacturers producing much cheaper flagship-tier devices.
Of course, it’s not clear if Chinese corporate espionage into Apple is actually taking place or not. But Kudlow’s comments aren’t likely to ease the tensions between Apple and the U.S. and the Chinese government.
While China is an extremely critical region for Apple as the largest smartphone market in the world, officials in the Trump administration have previously mentioned how other U.S. firms could be impacted by problems in China.
U.S. and Chinese officials are slated to meet next week to discuss trade relations, CNBC reported.
Apple in China
Apple is currently in the midst of fighting a Chinese court injunction after the court found that the Cupertino tech giant had violated two Qualcomm patents.
The court granted Qualcomm an import ban on iPhones, though Apple is continuing to sell devices in the country and has released a software update to apparently mitigate any patent-related issues.
The Cupertino tech giant is also being impacted by a backlash in China sparked when Canadian authorities arrested Huawei’s chief financial officer at the behest of U.S. authorities for allegedly circumventing sanctions on Iran.
Huawei and state-run Chinese media allege that the OEM’s lack of market share in the U.S. is due to deliberate stifling of competition by the U.S. government.