Google has “no plans” to relaunch a search engine in China though it is continuing to study the idea, Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told a US congressional panel on Tuesday.
“Right now, there are no plans to launch search in China,” Pichai told the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Reuters reports.
But he added that internally Google has “developed and looked at what search could look like. We’ve had the project underway for a while. At one point, we’ve had over 100 people working on it is my understanding.”
Pichai said there are no current discussions with the Chinese government. He vowed that he would be “fully transparent” with policymakers if the company brings search products to China.
In a letter in August to US lawmakers, Pichai said providing such a search engine would give “broad benefits” to China but that it is unclear whether Google could launch the service there.
Lawmakers and Google employees have raised concerns that the tech giant would comply with China’s internet censorship and surveillance policies if it re-enters the Asian nation’s search engine market.
Google’s main search platform has been blocked in China since 2010, but the company has been attempting to make new inroads into the country.
Pichai did not say what steps Google would take to comply with Chinese laws if it re-enters the market.
Much of the House hearing focused on Republican concerns that Google’s search results are biased against conservatives and that the company had sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Pichai said the search engine attempts to help people register to vote or find a polling place, but rejected assertions the company paid for Latino voters’ transportation to polls in some states.
“We don’t engage in partisan activities,” Pichai told the panel.
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