Google CEO Sundar Pichai reiterated the tech giant's commitment to the U.S. military on Wednesday during a meeting at the White House, President Donald Trump tweeted, after top administration officials said the company was aiding the Chinese military with its work in the country.
“Just met with @sundarpichai, President of @Google, who is obviously doing quite well. He stated strongly that he is totally committed to the U.S. Military, not the Chinese Military,” Trump posted on the social media site. “Also discussed political fairness and various things that @Google can do for our Country. Meeting ended very well!”
In an emailed statement, a Google spokeswoman said the company was "pleased to have productive conversations with the President about investing in the future of the American workforce, the growth of emerging technologies and our ongoing commitment to working with the U.S. government."
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford told a Senate panel earlier this month that Google’s work in China is a “direct benefit to the Chinese military.”
The comments were a reflection of the threat U.S. business face in operating in the country, where the communist government has access to a wide swath of private information -- including intellectual property.
Google has its own complicated relationship with China. The company pulled its signature search engine from the country in 2010 after suffering a cyberhack that targeted Chinese human-rights activists.
Still, it remains a lucrative market, so much so that Google was working on a censored search engine that would allow it to return to China. That initiative was abandoned -- at least publicly -- after eliciting intense criticism both from its own employees and elected officials.
The company, however, is still reportedly working on what is referred to internally as "Project Dragonfly." Executives are conducting a secret evaluation of the progress thus far on the search engine, according to The Intercept.
While it eyes an expansion in China, Google withdrew its particpation in a Pentagon projecct on drones -- referred to as Project Maven -- over concerns from its workers, prompting criticism from Dunford, congressional Republicans and others.