Google denied that its work in China is aiding that country’s military, in response to recent comments made by President Donald Trump and the U.S.’ highest-ranking military officer.
Trump said on March 16 that Google, a U.S. company, was helping China but neglecting the United States. He also made reference to criticisms that the company helped promote Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.
“Google is helping China and their military, but not the U.S. Terrible!” he wrote. “The good news is that they helped Crooked Hillary Clinton, and not Trump….and how did that turn out?”
Google is helping China and their military, but not the U.S. Terrible! The good news is that they helped Crooked Hillary Clinton, and not Trump….and how did that turn out?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 16, 2019
Days before the president’s comments, the United States’ top general, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, detailed the link between Google and China.
“The work that Google is doing in China is indirectly benefiting the Chinese military,” Dunford said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
“We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing that there is that indirect benefit,” he said. “Frankly, ‘indirect’ may be not a full characterization of the way it really is, it is more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military.”
A Google spokesperson denied such links to The Epoch Times, saying the company is working in a number of other different areas with China.
“We are not working with the Chinese military. We are working with the U.S. government, including the Department of Defense, in many areas, including cybersecurity, recruiting and health care,” the spokesperson said via email on March 17.
During the hearing, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sharply criticized the tech company, referring to it as a “supposedly American company.”
Last year, Google said it was no longer vying for a $10 billion cloud computing contract with the U.S. Defense Department, in part because the company’s new ethical guidelines don’t align with the project.
In June, Google said it would not renew a contract to help the U.S. military analyze aerial drone imagery when it expires, as the company sought to defuse an internal uproar over the deal.
Google also has faced bipartisan criticism since details leaked about them secretly developing a censored search app for the Chinese market named “Project Dragonfly.” Google said it has “no plans” to relaunch a search engine in China, although it is continuing to study the idea.
Lawmakers, human-rights advocates, and even some 1,400 of its own employees protested the project. In November last year, 11 Google engineers and managers published an open letter demanding that the company end the clandestine project.
Some of the concerns raised relate to whether Google will comply with the Chinese Communist Party’s internet censorship and surveillance policies if it re-enters China’s search engine market.
The Chinese regime runs the world’s most sophisticated system of internet censorship, employing tens of thousands of people to manually delete or promote content according to the Communist Party line.
The regime requires foreign companies to censor topics it deems “sensitive,” such as democracy, human rights, and the ongoing persecution in China of Falun Gong practitioners, underground Christians, rights activists, and others. Companies are also forced to share with the regime any of their data stored in China.
Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has previously said that the company has invested in China for years and plans to continue to do so.
Reuters contributed to this report.