Alphabet Chairman John Hennessy is conflicted about what Google's strategy should be in China.
"Anybody who does business in China compromises some of their core values," Hennessy said in an interview this week with Bloomberg. It's true for every company "because the laws in China are quite a bit different than they are in our own country," he said.
Since details of Google's project to create a censored search app for the Chinese market leaked this summer, human rights groups and U.S. politicians have called on the company to cancel its plans, while thousands of Google employees signed a letter saying that it raised "urgent moral and ethical issues."
The company initially withdrew its search service from the country in 2010 due to increased concerns about cyberattacks and censorship. In the time since, the Chinese government has increasingly curtailed what its citizens can or and can't do online by blacklisting websites and access to information about certain historical events — like the 1989 protests at Tiananmen Square — and requiring people who use online forums to register with their real names.
Google's Chinese search app would have reportedly complied with demands to remove content that the government ruled sensitive and linked users' searches to their personal phone numbers. Critics say that by cooperating with the Chinese government, Google would have violated principles of free expression as well as users' privacy rights.