Google CEO meets with Trump to discuss relationship with China

President Donald Trump says his meeting with Sundar Pichai "ended very well."

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
2 min read

Google CEO Sundar Pichai met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

James Martin/CNET

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he met with Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

The president said in a tweet that Pichai told him the search giant is "totally committed to the US military," as Google faces criticism over its work in China. Trump also said the two discussed "political fairness," adding that the meeting "ended very well." (The president misstated Pichai's role at Google as the company's president. He's the CEO.)

A Google spokeswoman confirmed the meeting. "We were pleased to have productive conversations with the president about investing in the future of the American workforce, the growth of emerging technologies and our ongoing commitment to working with the US government," she said in a statement. 

The White House didn't respond to a request for comment.

Google has faced blowback over its projects in China. General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said earlier this month that the search giant's work in the country is "indirectly benefiting the Chinese military." Pichai was also scheduled to meet with Dunford on Wednesday, according to a report by Bloomberg

Since 2017, Google has had an artificial intelligence lab in Beijing. The company has also been under fire for a project called Dragonfly, reportedly an attempt to bring Google search back to China, after the company left the market in 2010. At the time of the departure, Google co-founder Sergey Brin cited the "totalitarianism" of Chinese policies. Pichai has said the work is "exploratory," and that Google has "no plans" to launch a search product in China.

Meanwhile, Google last summer decided not to renew a contract with the Pentagon for Project Maven, an initiative to use AI to improve the analysis of drone footage. The decision, which reportedly grated on US military officials, came after protests from Google workers that said the company should not use its technology for warfare. Last June, soon after Pichai said the contract would not be renewed, he released a set of ethical guidelines for how the company would develop AI. Those guidelines include vows to never develop AI for weaponry and to only create technologies that are "socially beneficial." 

On Wednesday, Trump also suggested that he and Pichai discussed allegations of political bias that conservatives have lodged at Google. Last August, Trump had a very different tone when he tweeted about the search giant. He complained that Google was suppressing his message by not promoting his State of the Union speech (which turned out to be untrue). He also said that search results for news associated with him was "rigged." 

He later told reporters, "I think Google has really taken advantage of a lot of people."