Defense officials hit Google over China

Top defense officials on Thursday blasted Google for its work in China, saying that the company’s efforts are serving the interests of the U.S. adversary.

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

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

Dunford and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan both criticized Google during the hearing for pulling out of its U.S. defense contracts while also doing work in China. The internet search giant decided not to move forward with Pentagon work after facing internal pressure from employees who were concerned about the prospect that their technology was being used for lethal purposes.

And last summer, The Intercept reported that Google had been working on a project to develop a search engine that would comply with China’s censorship laws. After an outcry from lawmakers and activists, Google said it had shelved the product.

But the company still has a subsidiary in mainland China and offers some services that haven’t been blocked by Beijing’s firewall.

Shanahan said that the Chinese military benefits from the work being done in the country’s private sector.

“The fusion of commercial business with military is significant,” he said. “Five trillion dollars of their economy is state-owned enterprises, so the technology that is developed in the civil world is transferred to the military world — it’s a direct pipeline.”

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