Dunford slams Google for working with China, but not US Military
The top American military officer, Marine General Joseph Dunford, has criticized US internet giant Google for not wanting to work with the Pentagon even as the corporation seeks out business with China.
Dunford, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday it was “inexplicable” that US technology giants like Alphabet Inc’s Google had to make comprises to advance business interests in China.
“We are the good guys and it’s inexplicable to me that we would make compromises in order to advance our business interests in China where we know that freedoms are restrained, where we know that China will take intellectual property from companies,” he said.
In a security forum last month, Dunford expressed disappointment with Silicon Valley and said some US tech firms there hesitated to work with the Pentagon, even on programs that had nothing to do with weapons systems.
“This is not about doing something that’s unethical, illegal or immoral,” Dunford said. “This is about ensuring that we collectively can defend the values for which we stand. That would be the argument I make to the tech companies.”
Google recently withdrew from continuing to work with the Pentagon on a defense project – called Maven AI – after a larger number of its employees objected to the program on moral grounds.
In another case, the internet giant announced earlier this year that it was no longer vying for a 10-billion- dollar computing contract with the US Defense Department, in part because the company’s new ethical guidelines did not align with the project.
Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has previously said the company has invested in China for years and plans to continue to do so, but that the company would also cooperate with the US government on projects in health care, cybersecurity and other fields.
Google has long sought to have a bigger presence in China, the world’s largest internet market, but has come under fire over the past months for not taking a harder line against the Chinese government amid protracted trade dispute between Washington and Beijing over tariffs.
US President Donald Trump initiated what is effectively a trade war with China in April, when he first imposed unusually heavy tariffs on imports from the Asian country. Beijing has in response imposed retaliatory tariffs on $50 billion worth of US products.
The US imported nearly $500 billion worth of products from China last year while exporting about $130 billion in American goods to the country in the same period.
The White House said last week that the US and China had agreed to temporarily stop their trade war for a 90-day period following high-stake talks between Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.
However, Trump on Tuesday threatened that "major tariffs" will be placed on goods imported from China into the US if his administration cannot reach an effective trade deal with Beijing.