Google CEO: 'We have no plans to relaunch search in China'

After weeks of criticism, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company abandoned its plans to build a censored search engine, but speculation about whether Google ( GOOG ) was still angling to return to China has continued to swirl

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Poppy Harlow, Pichai said Google is not working on a new Chinese search engine, though he acknowledged that Google is not to ignore the country and its hundreds of millions of internet users.

"There are no plans for relaunching our service in China," Pichai said. He added, "We have always looked to serve the next billion users …. Our mission compass is to provide information."

Though China doesn't share Google's value of a free and open internet, the company reaches more users is "always a set of continued conversations we have at Google."

Pichai said that Google would need the "right conditions" to Relaunch in the country, and censorship-free internet is an "important condition" for making that decision. But he declined to share further details.

"I don't want to speculate on a hypothetical situation," he said. "We have no plans. And, you know, we are not spending time on it." It's not just Google: China has long been a conundrum for tech companies, which are drawn to its massive user base and thriving online shopping market. But human rights abuse and tightening authority by the Communist Party of China on free speech and information has forced companies to grapple with ethical questions. According to the US State Department, since 201[ads1]7, up to 2 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyzs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities have been held against their will in internal camps.

Harlow also asked Pichai to respond to US General Joseph Dunford's claim that Google's work in China "is a direct benefit" to the nation's military.

Pichai said Google had "good conversations" about that controversy and said it " cleared up any misunderstandings. "

" We are not doing any work in China. We have a limited presence in China, "he said. That includes "limited AI," or artificial intelligence, work through an open-source project called TensorFlow, he said. The company also does "some nonprofit work," Pichai said.

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