02 Dec 2020
The United States imposed sanctions on Monday on Chinese firm China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC), accusing it of supporting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to undermine democracy.
The U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement the Chinese company supported the leftist government of Maduro in its “efforts to restrict internet service and conduct digital surveillance and cyber operations against political opponents.”
“The United States will not hesitate to target anyone helping to suppress the democratic will of the Venezuelan people and others around the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry called the move “illegal” and said in a statement it was aimed at “isolating the country and generating difficulties for the Venezuelan population.”
CEIEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also called the sanctions illegal and said the United States should “correct its mistake.”
China will take all necessary measures to protect its companies’ legitimate rights and interests, she said, speaking at a daily news conference in Beijing on Tuesday.
Venezuelans have said for years that their computers and phones cannot access certain websites linked to the opposition or some local news agencies that openly criticize the government.
Those using broadband services provided by state-run telecommunications provider Venezuelan National Telephone Company (CANTV) are generally the most affected, but users of private services also face restrictions.
By Daphne Psaledakis, Reuters, 30 November 2020
Read more at Reuters
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