Venezuela Invests in Chinese Mass Surveillance Companies

BANGKOK, THAILAND – 2019/01/16: The Huawei logo seen displayed on a Android smartphone. (Photo by Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Venezuela strongman Nicolás Maduro announced on Thursday that his government would invest into Chinese telecom powerhouses Huawei and ZTE to bring a 4G wireless network into the country.

The country has rampant food shortages, hyperinflation, and failing infrastructures thanks to its decades of socialist policies and is looking for whatever way to get by.

Now, it’s looking to turn to one of its biggest geopolitical allies in China for help.

This announcement by Maduro looks like a response to the United States’ warning to other countries to not do business with Huawei.  The Trump administration also issued an executive order that bans U.S. businesses from working with foreign corporations that undermine U.S. national security, a move that is supposedly directed towards Huawei. According to American security experts, Huawei has used its technology for in tandem with the Chinese government to spy on the American military and steal trade secrets.

New reports indicate that ZTE helped Maduro’s regime build a surveillance network that mirrors China’s “social credit system”, which punishes regime opponents by preventing them from travelling domestically or abroad.

Maduro declared on state television that “I have ordered immediate investment together with our Chinese brothers and China’s technology, the technology of Huawei, of ZTE, of all the Chinese corporations and all the Russian corporations so that we can elevate the capabilities of all the communications systems and make the 4G system a reality.”

Maduro criticized U.S. “aggression” towards Huawei. The Venezuelan leader views it as another front in the “economic war” being waged against his regime and other rogue states across the world through the use of sanctions.

Venezuela’s crisis has gone geopolitical, given its support from countries like China and Russia. As the U.S. maintains its hawkish stance on the South American country, Venezuela will likely drift into the Chinese and Russian geopolitical orbit.

 

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