21 January 2020
Google denies allegations that it is working with the Chinese military. Photo: Bloomberg
Google denies allegations that it is working with the Chinese military. Photo: Bloomberg

Trump calls for inquiry into Google’s work with China

US President Donald Trump said his administration would investigate whether Alphabet Inc.’s Google supports the Chinese government, accusations that a company official refuted hours later at a Senate hearing, Reuters reports.

The president repeated accusations made previously by Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and venture capitalist, that Google may be infiltrated by Chinese intelligence agents.

“A great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone! The Trump Administration will take a look!” the president wrote on Twitter.

Trump later told reporters he would have various agencies, including potentially the Justice Department, “see if there’s any truth to” Thiel’s accusations.

Thiel has called on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency to probe Google on its relations with China, and alleged that the company worked with the Chinese military.

The top US general, Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed similar concerns about Google in a congressional hearing in March.

Google said in an email statement: “As we have said before, we do not work with the Chinese military.”

At a wide-ranging US Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday about Google’s content policies, the company’s top government affairs official told Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, that it did little business in China.

“Fundamentally, in China, we actually do very little today, certainly compared to any other major technology company,” said Karan Bhatia, vice president for government affairs and public policy.

Bhatia rejected accusations that Google has been infiltrated by Chinese intelligence agents or that it has turned a “blind eye” to theft of its code.

Its decisions about contracts with the US government have not been based on pressure from China, he said.

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