America’s top general said Thursday that Google’s work in China “is indirectly benefiting the Chinese military.”
“The work that Google is doing in China is indirectly benefiting the Chinese military and I’ve been very public on this issue as well,” Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing that there is that indirect benefit and frankly indirect may be not a full characterization of the way it really is, it’s more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military,” Dunford added.
Dunford has long questioned why US-based tech firms have resisted working with the Department of Defense while simultaneously doing business with geopolitical competitors like China.
CNN previously reported that Google intended to end its cooperation with the Pentagon on several projects, including the Project Maven program which used artificial intelligence to enhance military drone operations following complaints from employees.
The company also recently dropped a bid for a Pentagon cloud storage contract, citing concerns that working with the Defense Department could conflict with its principles.
“The way I described it to our industry partners is: look we’re the good guys and the values that we represent and the system we represent is the one that will allow and has allowed you to thrive,” Dunford said Thursday.
Google has “a lack of willingness to support DoD programs,” acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan also told the committee on Thursday.
He said that China often uses civilian technology to bolster its military forces.
“The technology that is developed in the civil world, transfers to the military world, it’s a direct pipeline,” Shanahan said.
A spokesperson for Google declined to address Dunford’s comments that the company’s work was benefiting the Chinese military but told CNN that despite its exiting several Pentagon projects, Google does continue to work with the Department of Defense in some areas.
“We deeply respect the US military and we are working with them to solve problems in areas like cybersecurity, logistics, transportation and planning,” the spokesperson said.
Google’s lack of willingness to work with the Pentagon while simultaneously doing business with China was slammed by Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri.
“We are in a struggle with the Chinese government over whether or not they’re going to become a regional and maybe global hegemon with values very different from ours, certainly values that do not favor freedom in the world,” Hawley said.
“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 added.
CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan contributed to this report.