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

Technology investor Peter Thiel criticized America’s big tech companies for being too close to China in an appearance on Tuesday at a virtual event hosted by the Richard Nixon Foundation.

Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and a board member of Facebook after making an initial investment, is a outspoken voice in the world of technology investments, known for his opposing views and conservative trends. He supported defense contractors like Palantir and publicly supported former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for president.

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

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

“Since everything in China is a civil-military merger, Google was effectively working with the Chinese military, not the Americans,” said Thiel. He also lamented that Google’s “insiders” told him that they worked with the Chinese because “they thought they could very well give the technology out the front door, because if they didn’t, it would be stolen anyway”.

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

A Google spokesman said at the time, “As we said, we don’t work with the Chinese military.”

Thiel also said that Apple is unlikely to face China because of its huge supply chain for making iPhones and other products in the country. He noted that other major technology companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft do not have such broad commercial interests in the country, in some cases because the Chinese government has restricted what they can do there.

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

Apple is probably the one that is structurally a real problem, because the entire iPhone supply chain is made from China, ”said Thiel.

He also seemed to change his position on Bitcoin during the lecture. Thiel invested in Bitcoin companies and said earlier that it was “long bitcoin” and considers it the “digital equivalent of gold”.

On Tuesday, Thiel said that Bitcoin threatens the US dollar.

“Even though I am a pro-cryptographic and pro-Bitcoin maximalist, I wonder if at this point Bitcoin should also be considered in part as a Chinese financial weapon against the United States, where it threatens fiat money, but especially the US dollar and China wants to do things to weaken it, so Bitcoin bought from China, “said Thiel.