Chinese Technology Helps Maduro ‘Control’ Venezuelans
By Voice of America (VOA)/Edited by Diálogo Staff September 08, 2020
A U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report, accusing China of promoting an authoritarian atmosphere in cyberspace, says that the Venezuelan regime has taken full advantage of China’s hardware and services to control Venezuelans.
The report, commissioned by Democrat Senator Bob Menéndez, says that Venezuela owns internet and mobile network equipment, intelligent monitoring systems, and face recognition technology that has been developed and set up by Chinese companies.
Government officials have also traveled to China to take part in information management seminars.
“The regime,” the report says, “uses these technologies to censor and control its critics by blocking social media platforms and political content, using pro-regime commentators to manipulate online discussions, stifling content critical of Maduro, increasing surveillance of citizens, tracking and detaining government critics, and accessing the data of human rights organizations.”
According to the document, the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE has helped the Nicolás Maduro regime to create the Venezuelan Fatherland Card, something critics have said is used to exert tougher social control over the population.
According to employees of the institution in charge of the card system, the database stores birthdates, family, employment and income, private property, medical history, state benefits, social media presence, political party affiliation, and voting records.
ZTE has also supported Maduro in building six emergency response centers in larger cities and in centralizing the government’s video surveillance.
The Menéndez report
The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations requested the report, which was signed by Menéndez and prepared after reviewing documentation and interviewing former government officials and nongovernmental experts.
The report documents how the Chinese government creates a legal framework to strengthen the Communist Party’s manipulation of tools of “digital authoritarianism” to export it abroad.
“The People’s Republic of China is pressing forward […] to build and expand digital authoritarianism through economic, political, diplomatic, and coercive means at home and abroad,” the 61-page document says.