Republican Reps Grill Google CEO Over ‘Collaboration’ With China


Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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Members of Congress grilled Google CEO Sundar Pichai on his company’s work with China during a Wednesday hearing before a House Judiciary subcommittee on potential violation of antitrust laws.

Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz and Ken Buck both questioned Pichai over various projects his company has worked on alongside the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), particularly the regarding country’s penchant for censorship and its military.

“You mentioned earlier in your — in the discussion about China that your engagement in China was very limited,” Gaetz said. “But yet Google has an A.I. China center; the Chinese academy of sciences has published a paper saying that it enhanced the targeting capabilities of a fighter aircraft. You collaborate with Chinese universities.”

“The former Secretary of Defense [Gen. John Shanahan] said that the lines have been blurred in China between commercial and military application. General [Joseph] Dunford says your company is directly aiding the Chinese military, and Peter Thiel, who serves on Mr. Zuckerberg’s board at Facebook, said that Google’s activities with China are treasonous,” Gaetz continued. “He accused you of treason.”

Pichai denied Gaetz’ allegations, saying Google had spoken with Gen. Shanahan to clarify that the company does “limited” work in China.

Gaetz continued to press him, however. (RELATED: Google’s Secret Chinese Censorship Project Effectively Ends After Employees Revolted)

“When the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff says that an American company is directly aiding China, when you’re working with universities and when your employees are talking about China trembling the world, it seems to call into question your commitment to our country and values. I see our time is expired,” he said.

Buck pressed Pichai on the same issue, saying reports from the U.S. military about Google’s work with China made him wonder “what values Google and Communist Red China had in common.”

“I asked myself, is it that the Chinese Communist Party imprisons Uighurs? Could it be that China forces slaves to work in sweat shops? Maybe they align on the design to suppress free speech. Did Google agree with the decision to lie to the world about the COVID-19 pandemic?” he asked. (RELATED: ‘This Is About Privacy’: China Tracks Citizens’ Whereabouts Through Top Automaker’s Technology)

“Then I thought about Google’s ‘Dragonfly’ experiment. I wondered if you agreed with the Chinese government’s use of technology platforms to spy on its own people and enforce security laws. If maybe, it’s that your companies align with the Chinese Communist espionage policies where the strategy is to steal whatever can’t be produced domestically. These values that allow Google to work with the Chinese military but not the American military without any hint of attribution,” Buck added.

Google’s relationship with China has not been entirely untroubled. In 2010, Google “effectively shut down its Chinese operations after it discovered a cyberattack from within the country,” the Atlantic reports, discovering upon investigation that a number of Chinese human-rights activists had been hacked in the process. Before the cyberattack, Google was reportedly complying with some stipulations of the Chinese government.

After the attack, The Atlantic reports that rather than filter search results, “Google directed all of its Chinese traffic to the uncensored Hong Kong version of its search engine, a move that left the company vulnerable to being completely shut down in China. Indeed, Google’s services became inaccessible to most Chinese users within months.”