Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai says the company’s controversial project to develop a search engine for the Chinese market was an “experiment."

The search engine for China, nicknamed Project Dragonfly, was revealed earlier this year in news reports, spurring criticism from US politicians, human-rights activists and some employees at the Alphabet Inc. unit. Company workers said a search engine that facilitated censorship would be in conflict with Google’s values.

Pichai, who had previously said the project was in its early stages, seemed to have rolled it back further on Thursday when he characterized the search engine for China as an experiment. The CEO’s comments contradicted reporting by The Intercept suggesting the project was in its mature stages.

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