Google CEO denies plans for China search engine

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Google's Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has said that the search giant has “no plans” to relaunch a search engine in China though the company is still exploring the idea.

Both lawmakers and the company's own employees have raised concerns over the fact that it would have to comply with China's internet censorship and surveillance policies if it does decide to re-enter Asia's biggest market.

Google search has effectively been blocked in the country since 2010 though its parent company Alphabet has been trying to establish a bigger presence there, going so far as to set up an AI research centre in China last year.

But Pichai told the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee yesterday that Google is not planning to launch search in China. This is despite the company has developed a search engine specifically built for the country with over 100 employees working on the project at one point.

Project Dragonfly

Pichai also told the committee that there are no current discussions underway with the Chinese government. However, if Google does decide to launch a search product in the country, he vowed that the company would be “fully transparent” with policymakers.

Back in August, Pichai wrote a letter to US lawmakers in which he noted that launching a search product in the country would give “broad benefits” to China. Although, at the time it was unclear whether Google would actually be able to get the necessary approval from the country's government.

Pichai did not reveal what steps the company would need to take to be in compliance with China's strict censorship laws if it were to launch a search product there.

Democratic Representative David Cicilline grilled Google's CEO over the moral implications of bringing its search engine to China, saying:

“Hard for me to imagine that you could operate in the Chinese market under the current government framework and maintain a commitment to universal values, such as freedom of expression and personal privacy.” 

While before it seemed possible that Google could bring its search engine to China once again, now it seems a lot less likely.

Via Reuters