Peter Thiel criticizes Google and Apple for being too close to China

Peter Thiel, co-founder and president of Palantir Technologies Inc., speaks during a press conference in Tokyo, Japan on Monday, November 18, 2019.

Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tech investor Peter Thiel criticized major U.S. tech companies for being too close to China in an appearance Tuesday at a virtual event hosted by the Richard Nixon Foundation.

Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and sits on Facebook’s board after making an early investment, is a frank voice in the tech investing world and is known for his opposing views and conservative leanings. He has supported defense contractors like Palantir and publicly supported the 2016 presidential campaign of former President Donald Trump.

Nixon’s session on Wednesday focused on China, and he was joined by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

Thiel criticized Google for its work on artificial intelligence with Chinese universities, in part because of conversations he claims to have with company insiders, according to a transcript of the event reviewed by CNBC.

“Since everything in China is a civil-military merger, Google was effectively working with the Chinese military, not the US military,” Thiel said. It is also sad that Google “insiders” told him that they were working with the Chinese because “they thought they might as well give the technology out the front door, because if they don’t. were not giving – it would be stolen anyway. “

Thiel had previously criticized Google in 2019, saying the FBI and CIA should investigate Google and ask if it had been compromised by Chinese spies.

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A Google spokesperson said at the time, “As we said before, we are not working with the Chinese military.”

Thiel also said that Apple was unlikely to face China because of its massive supply chain to make iPhones and other products in the country. He noted that other big tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft don’t have such broad business interests in the country, in some cases because the Chinese government has limited what they can do there.

He called on the United States to put “a lot of pressure” and surveillance on Apple because of its workforce supply chain in the country.

Apple is probably the one that’s structurally a real issue, as the entire iPhone supply chain is made from China, ”Thiel said. Apple is the one that has real synergies with China. “

He also appeared to change his stance on Bitcoin during the conference. Thiel has invested in Bitcoin companies and previously said it is “long bitcoin” and considers it “the digital equivalent of gold”.

On Tuesday, Thiel said Bitcoin was threatening the US dollar.

“Even though I’m sort of a pro-crypto, pro-Bitcoin maximalist person, I wonder if at this point Bitcoin should also be viewed in part as a Chinese financial weapon against the United States, where it threatens the currency. fiduciary, but it particularly threatens the US dollar, and China wants to do things to weaken it, thus along China’s Bitcoin, ”Thiel said.

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