The answers were somewhat varied.
“I don’t know of specific cases where we have been stolen from by the government,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “I know of no case [of] ours where it occurred … I can only speak to firsthand knowledge,” he added.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai initially followed his lead.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, said he had “heard many reports of that,” though he added that “I haven’t seen it personally.”
Mark Zuckerberg was far more unequivocal.
“I think it’s well documented that the Chinese government steals technology from American companies,” the Facebook CEO said.
“If you look at where the top technology companies come from, a decade ago the vast majority were American,” the Facebook CEO said. “Today, almost half are Chinese.”
The Trump administration has already largely blocked Chinese telecom giant Huawei from working with American suppliers, and says it’s “looking at” banning the hugely popular short form video app TikTok. Zuckerberg on Wednesday labeled that app, which is owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, one of Facebook’s main competitors.
Steube waited for around 15 seconds of awkward silence before yielding the rest of his time.