China is ripping off Microsoft to the tune of $10B

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said 90 percent of companies in China are using the Microsoft operating system, though only 1 percent are actually paying for it. Ballmer says the theft has to end.

“I’m a free trader, by nature. I went to the school of economics – it’s the best thing for the world,” Ballmer told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Thursday. “This one’s a tricky issue because it’s absolutely clear that the rules don’t apply in China, and the U.S. government needs to do something.”

Not only is the theft a foreign policy issue, it impacts investors as well.

“Without any pressure from the U.S. government – we are talking about $10 billion plus, for example, in Microsoft that would go into profit,” he said.

Microsoft has been doing business with China for more than 25 years, long before the tit-for-tat tariff fight – led by President Trump – exploded.

Trump tweeted on Thursday that he spoke with Chinese Xi Jinping, calling it “a long and very good conversation.”

“Just had a long and very good conversation with President Xi Jinping of China,” he wrote. “We talked about many subjects, with a heavy emphasis on Trade. Those discussions are moving along nicely with meetings being scheduled at the G-20 in Argentina. Also had good discussion on North Korea!”

However Ballmer, who stepped down as CEO in 2014, is unsure whether tariffs are the best way to handle the theft. China is the world’s second largest economy behind the U.S.

Meanwhile, Microsoft announced last month that it’s taking measures into its own hands with a new plan to sell artificial intelligence to the military, to boost its defense against China.

Microsoft recently unseated Amazon as America’s second-most valuable company last week after weaker than expected quarterly results wiped billions off the e-commerce giant’s market capitalization.