Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Tom Cotton (R-AK), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai Wednesday, demanding answers about the company’s relationship with China’s Huawei after reports the search giant claimed that were not conducting substantial business in China.
The senators said that Google put its “profits before country” with its partnership with Huawei.
The trio of Republican senators demanded answers from Pichai after reports revealed that Google and Huawei were collaborating on a Huawei-branded smart speaker and were “even closer than previously understood.”
The senators noted that in July, Karan Bhatia, Google’s vice president of global government affairs and public policy, “denied, under oath, that Google has been conducting any substantial business in China.”
The Republican lawmakers said that the Huawei-branded smart speakers would allow for them to surveil Americans’ personal conversations.
- To what extent Google considered the national security implications of working with Huawei, noting that Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before Congress in March that Google’s partnership with Chinese companies provides a “direct benefit” to the Chinese military.
- Why Google’s partnership with Huawei continued for “months” after a federal government seal indictment found, in the words of the Washington Post, that Huawei “is determined to succeed by using theft and duplicity.”
- What national security vulnerabilities they learned while working with Huawei, and what steps Google took to eliminate those national security threats before agreeing to work with the Chinese tech company.
- Reports suggested that Google “suspended” the project with Huawei because the Chinese company was placed on a trade blacklist and whether the company will work with Huawei if the blacklist is lifted.
The senators also suggested that Google has had a concerning relationship with China outside of its partnership with Huawei. Until 2010, Google ran a censored search engine called Google.cn and only stopped the project after it was targeted in a hacking attempt. Google was also developing a more sophisticated search engine called Project Dragonfly and the project was only ended after internal backlash amongst Google employees. Google also opened an artificial intelligence office in Beijing, China.