Mérida, December 3, 2020 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan and Chinese governments have blasted US sanctions against a Chinese electronics company.
On Monday, the US targeted the China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC), alleging that the company supports efforts to restrict internet service and conduct “digital surveillance” against opposition figures.
“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 Steve Mnuchin said in a statement. The Treasury Department claimed that the hardware and software provided by the CEIEC are a “commercialized version of China’s “Great Firewall.”
The Chinese enterprise will now have any US assets where it holds a larger than 50 percent stake blocked, while US citizens and companies are forbidden from dealing with the company.
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry criticized the move as “illegal” and an attempt to “isolate the country and generate difficulties for the Venezuelan people.”
“Washington’s elites, always boasting about press freedom and free trade, are attacking foreign companies which provide services to the Venezuelan state,” a press release read.
According to the Treasury Department, the CEIEC has supplied “software, training and technical expertise” to several state entities, including public telecommunications company CANTV, since 2017. CANTV has often blocked access to anti-government websites, forcing users to access them through mobile providers or VPN services.
Beijing also condemned the move on Tuesday, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying stressing that the country will take “necessary measures” to protect its companies.
“China supports Venezuelan efforts to defend its sovereignty and is opposed to abusing international sanctions,” she said in a press briefing.
Washington has imposed successive rounds of unilateral sanctions against the South American nation in recent years as part of attempts to oust the Maduro government. The measures have targeted sectors such as banking, mining, food imports and particularly oil. US sanctions have been denounced by multilateral bodies and described as “collective punishment” of Venezuelans.
The Trump administration has set sights on foreign companies in the past, levying sanctions against subsidiaries of Russian energy giant Rosneft for dealing with Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and against Mexican enterprises doing oil-for-food swap deals. The US Treasury Department has likewise threatened secondary sanctions against shipping companies and oil corporations, forcing them to wind down dealings with Caracas.