Treasury Sanctions CEIEC for Supporting the Illegitimate Maduro Regime’s Efforts to Undermine Venezuelan Democracy
By United States Department of the Treasury December 15, 2020
On November 30, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC) for supporting the illegitimate Maduro regime’s efforts to undermine democracy in Venezuela, including its efforts to restrict internet service and conduct digital surveillance and cyber operations against political opponents. Chinese technology companies, including CEIEC, continue to challenge democratic values of freedom and transparency by developing and exporting tools to monitor, censor, and surveil citizens’ activities on the internet.
“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 T. 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.”
This entity was designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13692, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions.
Nondemocratic governments use Chinese-exported technologies such as those CEIEC has provided to repress political dissent within their own borders. CEIEC has been supporting the Maduro regime’s malicious cyber efforts since 2017.
CEIEC has provided software, training, and technical expertise to Venezuela government entities, which was then used against the people of Venezuela.
CEIEC provides cyber support and technical experts to state-run telecommunications provider Venezuelan National Telephone Company (CANTV, in Spanish), which controls 70 percent of internet service in all of Venezuela. The suite of software and hardware that CEIEC provided Venezuela is a commercialized version of China’s “Great Firewall.” The Great Firewall is China’s nationwide system of web blocks and filters, used to maintain strict online censorship, control the information Chinese citizens can access outside China, and prevent the internal dissemination of content deemed undesirable by political leadership.