US Sanctions Chinese Company Over Dealings With Maduro Regime, Helping Surveillance

(Photo by Parker Song-Pool/Getty Images)

Alex Corey Contributor
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The Trump administration imposed sanctions on a Chinese company, accusing it of supporting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to undermine democracy, including conducting digital surveillance of the regime’s political opponents and restricting internet access to citizens.

The U.S. Department of Treasury announced in a statement that the China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation (CEIEC) will be facing financial penalties for its role in providing software, training, and technical expertise to Venezuelan government entities, which the Maduro regime used against the people of Venezuela. (RELATED: Judge Convicts, Sentences Six American Oil Executives Who Were Lured To Venezuela)

“The illegitimate Maduro regime’s reliance on entities like CEIEC to advance its authoritarian agenda further illustrates the regime’s prioritization of power over democratic values and processes,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “The United States will not hesitate to target anyone helping to suppress the democratic will of the Venezuelan people and others around the world.”

The type of technology that electronic company provided Venezuela is a commercialized version of China’s “Great Firewall,” which is the Asian country’s nationwide system of web blocks and filters used to censor and control the information Chinese citizens can access outside of China and prevent content deemed “undesirable” by political leadership, according to the statement.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also weighed in on the sanctions, alleging the CEIEC was complicit in aiding Venezuela in its “malicious efforts” to weaken democracy in the country, according to a separate statement from the U.S. Department of State.

“With this latest action, the United States reaffirms its commitment to promoting accountability for all those complicit in the illegitimate Maduro regime’s efforts to undermine democracy,” Pompeo’s statement said. “Maduro’s desperate attempts to manipulate the democratic processes should leave no doubt that any elections organized by the illegitimate regime, including the December 6 parliamentary elections, will be neither free nor fair.”

The administration said it has recognized Venezuelan politician Juan Guaido as the nation’s rightful leader since January 2019, in the aftermath of Maduro’s illegitimate re-election in March 2018, where wide-scale evidence of fraud was found.

After a citizen uprising against Maduro in late April 2019, Venezuela experienced power failures and weak cellphone signals, leading to an information blackout, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury.

“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of CEIEC, or any entity in which it owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC,” read the statement from the Department of Treasury.