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China is helping Venezuela ‘shut down internet,’ Sen. Marco Rubio says

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
May 10, 2019

China has becoming increasingly involved in the Venezuela conflict and has helped the country in its cyber operations, according to Sen. Marco Rubio.

China, a heavy investor in Venezuela, has helped Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro cut his country’s access to the internet, Rubio told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Monday.

“The Chinese are very involved. First of all, they are owed a bunch of money, so they want to get paid,” he explained. “Number two is they are single-handedly helping conduct the Internet control operation. They have basically taken a commercial version of their great Internet firewall and given it to Maduro, and it is a service they are providing him, so they are the ones that are shutting down the Internet and access to social media.”

Maduro has manipulated the internet as a tool to prevent opposition leader Juan Guaido from communicating, thus impeding opposition rallies and protests from forming.

Guaido frequently uses Twitter to reach the opposition followers, even live streaming his speeches and directive in the efforts to oust Maduro. Maduro has acted by shutting down the internet.

Guaido has “no access to the media. Any time he tries to speak or communicate on social media, they shut down the Internet. … Literally, every time he holds a rally, they shut down the Internet,” Rubio said, adding that China is “single-handedly controlling the defensive cyber operations shutting down the Internet.”

China has also helped Venezuela build a “social credit system” much like its own system, which is a point system tied to citizens’ behavior that can block those with too few points from critical societal privileges and resouces. Venezuela’s version of the system has been dubbed “Fatherland Card.”

Rubio said China is treading carefully between their continued investment and influence in the region, but are trying not to anger the dozens of countries who support Guaido and recognize him as Venezuela’s rightful leader.

“On the other hand, they view Venezuela as a place of strategic importance because they have an existing leverage relationship with him [Maduro], they’re there on the ground, and the notion in their mind is they need to be against what they view as any American efforts to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries,” Rubio added.

China has invested billions in Venezuela throughout the regimes of Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chávez, and recently gave Maduro a $5 billion loan in exchange for one billion barrels of oil.

Further, China has been closely abiding by the UN Charter and general international relations policy to protect its long-term investment and hasn’t aggressively voiced its support of Maduro in a likely effort to remain neutral.