Washington, March 15: Top Pentagon officials have slammed Google, saying its work with China is "indirectly benefiting" the military in that country. In a report published in The Hill on Thursday, senior defence officials blamed the tech giant of favouring China. "The work that Google is doing in China is indirectly benefiting the Chinese military," General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing there is that indirect benefit," Dunford said. "And frankly, 'indirect' may not be a full characterisation of the way it really is, it's more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military," he added. According to CNBC, Dunforda¿s comments come "in the wake of the tech giants' decision not to pursue some of the Pentagon's lucrative contracts while considering projects in China". China Reconfiguring its Military as it Increases Size of its Airforce and Navy.
Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan also blasted Google during the hearing for pulling out of its defence contracts. Last October, facing President Donald Trump administration's ire over its censored Chine Search engine project, Google CEO Sundar Pichai met Pentagon officials during his trip to Washington and discussed the controversial "Project Maven".
Pichai met "a group of civilian and military leaders mostly from the office of the Under Secretary of Defence for Intelligence the Defence Department directorate that oversees the Artificial Intelligence (AI) drone system known as Project Maven". After facing backlash over its involvement in the Pentagon project "Maven", Pichai in June emphasised that the company will not work on technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm.
About 4,000 Google employees had signed a petition demanding "a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology". Following the anger, Google decided not to renew the project with the US Defence Department after it expires in 2019.
US senators were also upset with Google about the tech giant's reported plan to create a censored Chinese version of its search engine. US Vice President Mike Pence in October called on Google to end its "censored" Chinese Search engine -- the "Dragonfly" project. The company later reportedly shut down the project amid widespread criticism.