Top general rips Google for ‘indirectly benefiting’ Chinese


America’s top general charged Thursday that the Chinese military is benefiting from the work Google is doing in China, where the technology giant has long sought to have a bigger presence despite intrusive government rules.

“The work that Google is doing in China is indirectly benefiting the Chinese military,” Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

“We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing that there is that indirect benefit. Frankly, ‘indirect’ may be not a full characterization of the way it really is, it is more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military.”

Last year, Google said it was no longer vying for a $10 billion computing contract with the Defense Department, in part because the company’s new ethical guidelines did not align with the project.

In June, Google said it would not renew a contract to help the US military analyze aerial drone imagery when it expired, as the company sought to defuse an internal uproar over the deal.

At the same time, Google said it had no plans to relaunch a search engine in China, though it is continuing to study the idea.

During the hearing, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri sharply criticized the tech giant. “We have an American company that does not want to do work with our Defense Department, which is one thing, but they’re happy to help the Chinese, at least the Chinese government that is, the Chinese military, at least indirectly. I think that’s just extraordinary,” he said.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, also testifying before the Senate committee, made it clear he shared Dunford’s concerns.

“Five trillion dollars of their [China’s] economy is state-owned enterprises,” Shanahan said. “So the technology that has developed in the civil world transfers to the military world, it’s a direct pipeline. Not only is there a transfer, there is systemic theft of US technology that facilitates even faster development of emerging technology,” he said.

Technology companies have recently been a favorite target of many lawmakers, who have criticized them over a wide range of issues such as privacy, work in China and allowing foreign meddling in US elections.

Lawmakers and Google employees have raised concerns that the company would comply with China’s Internet censorship and surveillance policies if it re-enters the Asian nation’s search-engine market.

Asked about Dunford’s comments, Google referred to previous statements by its leaders.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has previously said the company has invested in China for years and plans to continue to do so, but that the company also was continuing to work with the US government on projects in health care, cyber security and other fields.

With Post Wires