US Imposes Venezuela-Related Sanctions on Chinese Firm

November 30, 2020 Updated: November 30, 2020

WASHINGTON—The United States on Nov. 30 imposed sanctions on Chinese firm China National Electronics Import & Export Corp. (CEIEC), accusing it of supporting Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to undermine democracy.

The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement said the Chinese company supports the leftist government of Maduro in its “efforts to restrict internet service and conduct digital surveillance and cyber operations against political opponents.”

“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,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

“The United States will not hesitate to target anyone helping to suppress the democratic will of the Venezuelan people and others around the world,” he added.

The Treasury said CEIEC since 2017 has been supporting the Maduro government and has provided software, training, and technical expertise to entities of Venezuela’s government, including state-run telecommunications provider Venezuelan National Telephone Co.

Venezuela’s information ministry and officials at CEIEC didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about the Treasury’s announcement.

In January 2019, Washington recognized Venezuelan politician Juan Guaido as the OPEC nation’s rightful leader and has ratcheted up sanctions and diplomatic pressure in the aftermath of Maduro’s 2018 reelection, widely described as fraudulent.

Maduro remains in power, backed by Venezuela’s military as well as Russia, China, and Cuba.

The action freezes any U.S. assets of the Chinese firm and generally bars Americans from dealing with it.

By Daphne Psaledakis