Silicon Valley investors are worried that China’s tech sector will eat their lunch.

The idea came up at a Bay Area debate earlier this week when Sequoia Capital venture partner Mike Vernal posited that China will soon overtake the U.S. in areas like artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles.

“The Chinese government and the Chinese tech leaders are marching in lockstep towards innovation,” he said on stage at an event hosted by The Churchill Club. “So I think there’s a real risk that in three to five years’ time, we wake up and realize that China is far ahead of the U.S. and Silicon Valley.”

The four other investors on stage — David Cowan from Bessemer, Sarah Guo from Greylock, Nicole Quinn from Lightspeed and Tomasz Tunguz from Redpoint — largely agreed with Vernal’s prediction.

In China, the government is eager to clear hurdles for self-driving cars, data sharing, or factory automation, while start-ups in the U.S. get caught up in regulation, Vernal said.

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