The People’s Republic of China is home to the second-largest economy on the planet in terms of gross domestic product and the single largest economy when it comes to purchasing power parity. It’s also one of the greatest exporters on the planet.
Despite these accomplishments, the Chinese government has instituted the widespread censorship of certain types of information on the Internet before it gets to Chinese Internet users – censorship simply isn’t popular among the rest of the world’s most economically powerful or largest counties.
Nearly a year ago, in Aug. 2018, the public first learned that Google had been working on a custom search engine separate from its own that would be used solely in China. As a matter of fact, according to the internal company memorandum leaked by The Intercept last year, the search engine was planned to run in harmony with the existing provisions of Internet censorship mandated by the Chinese federal government.
The search engine, which was slated to come in the form of a mobile application, was reportedly slated to be called Dragonfly. Fittingly, the company’s plans to create the search engine were called Project Dragonfly.
Although other reports came out that alleged the same things that the leaked memo from The Intercept reported, seemingly confirming their validity and existence, Google never officially answered any questions about its purported partnership with the Chinese government to create the censor-friendly search engine.
However, per a statement from the company’s Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy, Karan Bhatia, that came yesterday, on Tuesday, July 16, 2019, at a United States Senate hearing, Google was no longer involved in the development of the proposed search engine app on behalf of the People’s Republic of China.
Roughly six months ago, Sundar Pichai, the Chief Executive Officer of Google, informed Congress during a similar hearing he attended that the tech giant had “no plans” to move forward with the expansion of its search engine services in China. However, Pichai also indicated that the company’s decision-makers were debating internally on whether to venture its search efforts into China.
Yesterday’s statement from Karan Bhatia came just at the right time, as Google faced public criticism from tech mogul Peter Thiel during a conference this weekend regarding its purported decision to work with the Chinese government and its past turning down to partner with the American government.