U.S. Vice President, Mike Pence, in a speech on Thursday at a Washington-based think tank that called out Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea and singled out Google for its plans to return to China.
He sharply criticized Chinese aggression and interference, both military and economic, “Google should immediately end development of the Dragonfly app that will strengthen the Communist Party’s censorship, and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers.”
The secretive project, will allow the tech company to restart its search engine operations in mainland China in compliance with Beijing’s strict censorship laws. The company’s plans have met with opposition from employees, who have circulated a letter demanding more transparency from management.
This is the latest development as U.S.-China relations grow increasingly confrontational. At a news conference last week, U.S. President Donald Trump suggested that his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping may no longer be one of friendship.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying issued a statement decrying Pence’s speech for “unwarranted accusations” regarding China’s domestic and foreign policy. “We urge the U.S. to correct its wrongdoing, stop groundlessly accusing and slandering China and harming China’s interests and China-U.S. ties,” she said.