Google ‘not close’ to launching search engine in China, CEO says
Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai told employees that the internet giant is “not close to launching a search product in China” and is carefully considering how it will do business in the country, according to a person briefed on the comments.
Pichai, speaking Thursday at a weekly all-hands meeting in Mountain View, Calif., was responding to criticism from employees, human rights groups and others who in recent days have voiced concerns over the Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, -0.66%GOOG, -0.65% unit’s work with the Chinese government. Google is developing services for Chinese citizens, including a search engine that could adhere to China’s strict censors, The Wall Street Journal and others reported last week.
Google is balancing its desire to expand its business in China — a market with the world’s largest internet population — with its identity as a champion of human rights. Google withdrew its search engine from China in 2010 to protest the government’s censorship regime and attempts to hack into the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. At the time, Google co-founder Sergey Brin described the government as having the “earmarks of totalitarianism” of the Soviet Union, where he was born.
The company is also contending with an increasingly activist workforce that is pushing management to be more transparent in its decision-making over controversial issues like China.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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