Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai told employees at a meeting that plans to re-enter China with a search engine are \u201cexploratory\u201d and in \u201cearly stages,\u201d addressing a topic that has exploded with controversy. Google co-founder Sergey Brin also spoke to the staff Thursday at the company\u2019s all-hands meeting, saying that Google isn\u2019t compromising its principles. The accounts came from two people familiar with the discussion at the meeting of the Alphabet Inc. unit. They asked not to be identified talking about private matters. Google didn\u2019t respond to requests for comment. The discussion at the all-hands meeting was the first time Google executives addressed the company\u2019s plans for a possible return to China. \u201cWe are not close to launching a search product in China,\u201d Pichai said, according to a transcript of the meeting provided to Bloomberg. \u201cAnd whether we would do so or could so is all very unclear.\u201d Reports surfaced two weeks ago that Google was developing a project, called Dragonfly, to launch a mobile search app that would censor results in compliance with the Chinese government. Google pulled its servers from mainland China in 2010 over concerns with government censorship, a decision Brin primarily drove. Google\u2019s cloud division is also in talks with multiple Chinese companies about partnerships in the country as the internet search giant seeks ways to get back into the world\u2019s second-biggest economy, Bloomberg News has reported. The first two questions from staff members at Google\u2019s Thursday meeting were about Dragonfly, the people said. After those discussions, a company official suggested changing the topic because the executives\u2019 comments were already being leaked online, one of the people said. \u201cOur stated mission is to organize the world\u2019s information,\u201d Pichai said, according to the transcript. \u201cChina is one-fifth of the world\u2019s population. I think if we were to do our mission well, I think we have to think seriously about how we do more in China.\u201d More than 1,000 Google employees signed an internal petition that said the Dragonfly project raised \u201curgent moral and ethical issues,\u201d according to a copy viewed by Bloomberg News. The signatories also wrote that the project was \u201cmade in secret,\u201d and asked for management to set up oversight processes for the initiative. \u201cI genuinely do believe we have a positive impact when we engage around the world and I don\u2019t see any reason why that would be different in China,\u201d Pichai said. \u201cWe\u2019ll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here. We definitely do plan to engage more and talk more.