Sundar Pichai says Google still planning a censored search engine in China

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The Google CEO also appeared to take a swipe at Baidu, suggesting that a Google search engine would be competitive with local alternatives.

There has been a lot of talk about Google's plans to launch a censored version of its search engine in China, but there was nothing specific about it coming from official sources. Google tried to suppress an internal memo written by an employee that detailed how some aspects of the service would work.

"We wanted to learn what it would look like if Google was operating in China", he said.

And that's not for nothing, as the Internet censorship in China is a reality in the day-to-day life of the Asian nation's users.

Earlier this month, United States vice-president Mike Pence called for Google to immediately halt work on Dragonfly, saying in a speech that it would "strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers".

"There are many, many areas where we would provide information better than what's available". There would also be a disclaimer that due to rules in China certain results are not shown.

The announcement could prompt more questions from US policymakers, some of whom have accused Google of being evasive about Project Dragonfly. Google also cited the Chinese government's efforts to "further limit free speech on the web in China" by blocking websites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter as their reasoning for leaving the country.

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Given the Chinese government's interest in controlling citizens' access to information on the internet - the Great Firewall of China being a case in point - there have been concerns about just what Google's Chinese search engine might block.

According to Pichai, bringing Google search back to China would benefit the public by providing better information than what Chinese user now receive. But, at the event, he gushed, "It turns out we'll be able to serve well over 99 percent of the queries ..." The move was made after disagreements between Google and Chinese officials regarding censorship.

Pichai said the offering search in China, home to 20-percent of the world's population, is important to the company.

He also said Google will work with the USA armed forces in the future and "greatly respects what they do to protect our country".

Since news of the "Dragonfly" project first leaked, hundreds of Google employees signed a letter saying that it raised "urgent moral and ethical issues", CNBC reported.

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai publicly addressed his company's plans to re-enter the Chinese market with a search and news-oriented product for the first time on Monday, saying such a service would be capable of serving 99 per cent of queries.

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