Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist who helped found PayPal and sits on Facebook’s board, says Google’s working relationship with China is possibly “treasonous" and raises questions about U.S. national security. In a Fox News exclusive interview with Tucker Carlson, Thiel elaborated on his opinion.
“There’s this very peculiar background where Google is working with the Chinese Communist government and not with the U.S. military; so the Project Maven decision was a decision not to work with A.I., with the U.S. military -- but they’re working with the Communist Chinese” he said on Monday.
Thiel’s remarks, first made on Sunday concerning Google’s dealings with the U.S. military, were an apparent reference to the company’s decision last year not to renew a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense related to the analysis of drone footage using artificial intelligence tools as company employees protested creating products for the U.S. government.
Google has faced repeated scrutiny over its dealings with China and its work with the country on a censored search engine codenamed “Project Dragonfly.” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said late last year that the company had no plans to launch the project.
Thiel, went onto explain when pressed by Carlson, why Google is working with the Chinese and not the U.S. where it is headquartered in Silicon Valley.
“I think one explanation is they figure they have to....if they don’t give it to them through the front door, it will get stolen through the back door. So the first answer is they have to. And then I think, of course, there’s probably you know, a broad base of Google employees that are ideologically super left wing...and think that China is better than the U.S. or that the U.S. is worse than China. It’s always -- it’s more anti-American than anything” he said.
Following Thiel's remarks on Sunday, Google reiterated that it does not have any dealings with the Chinese military. The company said Thiel’s allegations are false, but did not elaborate on the situation. Google representatives declined further comment.
China's stealing of intellectual property is at the root of the U.S.-China trade war. The practice, say many executives and lawmakers, has been going on for years.
Last November, 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. “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" he said.
FOX Business' Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.
Suzanne O'Halloran is Managing Editor of FOXBusiness.com and is a graduate of Boston College. Follow her on Twitter @suzohalloran