Google CEO Sundar Pichai has sought to reassure employees who are worried the company might compromise its values to get into China.
Pichai, at a town hall meeting on Thursday, said he’s not rushing to launch a search product for China. The meeting was the first such event since media reports detailed Google’s efforts to build a censored app for the country.
“We are not close to launching a search product in China,” Pichai said, according to a source with knowledge of the conversation.
“And whether we would do so, or could do so is all very unclear,” he said. “But the team has been in an exploration stage for quite a while now and I think they are exploring many options.”
The discussion was part of a regular meeting that is open to all employees.
Reports surfaced earlier this month that Google(GOOGL) was working on a search engine for China that would block sensitive websites and search terms to comply with Chinese government censorship.
“To make ethical choices, Googlers need to know what we’re building. Right now we don’t,” reads a copy of the letter posted on the website of The Times.
Google declined to confirm the authenticity of the letter, or comment on the town hall meeting.
China has hundreds of millions of internet users and a thriving online shopping market, making it impossible for US tech companies to ignore. But jumping back into China presents ethical issues for Google, which has long advocated a free and open internet.