The US is imposing sanctions in opposition to Chinese language corporations in opposition to Venezuela

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs hearing

By Daphne Psaledakis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on the Chinese company China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC), accusing it of supporting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's efforts to undermine democracy.

The US Treasury Department said in a statement that the Chinese company supported the left-wing Maduro government in its "efforts to restrict Internet service and carry out digital surveillance and cyber operations against political opponents."

"The trust of the illegitimate Maduro regime in organizations like CEIEC to advance its authoritarian agenda illustrates the prioritization of the regime's power over democratic values ​​and processes," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in the statement.

"The United States will not hesitate to target anyone who is helping to suppress the democratic wills of the Venezuelan people and other people around the world," he added.

The Venezuelan Ministry of Information did not immediately respond to an email asking for comment on the Treasury's announcement. A comment from CEIEC was sought.

Washington recognized Venezuelan politician Juan Guaido as the rightful leader of the OPEC nation in January 2019 and tightened sanctions and diplomatic pressure following Maduro’s re-election in 2018, widely known as fraudulent.

Maduro remains in power, supported by the Venezuelan military as well as Russia, China and Cuba.

Monday's action freezes all of the Chinese company's U.S. assets and generally prevents Americans from dealing with it.

The Treasury Department said that CEIEC has been supporting the Maduro government since 2017, providing software, training and technical expertise to companies belonging to the Venezuelan government, including the state-owned telecommunications provider Venezuelan National Telephone Company (CANTV).

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