"Today, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated CEIEC for supporting... efforts to undermine democracy in Venezuela, including its efforts to restrict internet service and conduct digital surveillance and cyber operations against political opponents," the release said.
The US will block all transactions with CEIEC or any entity which owns a 50 percent or more stake in the company, according to the release. The US will also issue a general license that gives entities 45 days to wind-down transactions with CEIEC.
The Chinese technology company has been supporting the Venezuelan government's cyber efforts since 2017, the release said. The Treasury Department said China itself uses similar technology, dubbed the "Great Firewall," to prevent dissemination of political information.
CEIEC provides cyber support to the state-run telecommunications provider Venezuelan National Telephone Company (CANTV), which controls 70 percent of internet service in the country, the Treasury Department added.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took to Twitter to announce new restrictions against Venezuela.
The U.S. is sanctioning PRC tech firm CEIEC for enabling the Maduro regime’s efforts to undermine democracy in Venezuela. Their support to restrict internet service and conduct digital surveillance against political opponents is robbing Venezuelans of a democratic future.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 30, 2020
Venezuela has been living under the pressure of US sanctions for almost two years already. In early 2019, Juan Guaido, who at the time headed the country's National Assembly, proclaimed himself interim president, seeking to oust re-elected President Nicolas Maduro from power. The US and several other Western countries supported Guaido and imposed sanctions on Venezuela, which included freezing of its assets abroad.
Maduro said the West was using sanctions to unseat him and get access to Venezuela’s assets and oil and gas resources.