The Intercept reported that when he was asked to confirm that Google would launch a search tool that would aid in surveillance and censorship in China, Pichai responded with an oblique answer, saying:
"One of the things that’s important to us as a company, we have a stated mission of providing users with information, and so we always think it’s our duty to explore possibilities to give users access to information.
"I have a commitment, but as I’ve said earlier on this we’ll be very thoughtful and we’ll engage widely as we make progress."
There have been numerous developments since then, with even US Vice-President Mike Pence calling on the company to scrap the project.
Google has been silent about the project for the most part, but in October Pichai referred to it in public, telling a conference that what had been developed up to that point was "very promising".
When Pichai was asked what user information Google would share with Beijing authorities, he again avoided a direct answer, saying: "We would look at what the conditions are to operate … [and we would] explore a wide range of possibilities.”