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Google's work in China doesn't raise concerns, says Treasury's Mnuchin

Mnuchin says he had “direct discussions” with Google CEO Sundar Pichai this week.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he met with Google CEO Sundar Pichai this week.


Google CEO Sundar Pichai met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this week to try to assuage worries about the search giant's work in China, Mnuchin said on Wednesday. After the meeting, Mnuchin said he has no security concerns about Google's work in the country. 

"The president and I did diligence on this issue, and we're not aware of any areas where Google is working with the Chinese government in any way that raises concerns," he said during an interview with CNBC. 

Mnuchin said that he and Pichai had "direct discussions," and he described Google's work in China as "very minimal." 

Google didn't respond to a request for comment. 

Mnuchin's comments come a week after investor Peter Thiel, one of Trump's highest-profile supporters in the tech industry, accused Google of having a "seemingly treasonous" relationship with China and urged a probe by the FBI and CIA. After Thiel's comments, Trump tweeted that he would "take a look." 

The search giant has also faced intense scrutiny over Project Dragonfly, reportedly an initiative to build a search product for the Chinese market, from which Google retreated in 2010. The project drew criticism from human rights and privacy activists for its potential to aid the authoritarian regime in the surveillance of its citizens. 

Google has said its work in China is only "exploratory" and it's "not close" to launching a search product in China. At a Senate Judiciary hearing last week, Karan Bhatia, Google's vice president of public policy, said the project had been "terminated."

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