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Experts Warn: Chinese Tech in Latin America Used to 'Exert Social Control'


WASHINGTON, DC — The ongo ng proliferation of Chine e surveillance and inform tion technologies in Lati America can be used to e ert social control, erode democratic governance, an challenge US

and regio al strategic interest, ex ert witnesses told a Hous panel on Thursday Margaret Myers, the direc or of the Asia and Latin merica program at the Int r-American Dialogue, told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Weste n Hemisphere via written estimony that the governm nts of Argentina, Bolivia Ecuador, Panama, and Ven zuela have all implemente “Chinese-made intelligen monitoring” technologies Myers described the move s “exceedingly troubling, adding: These systems are describ d by Chinese suppliers as promoting of citizen safe y and security, but if us d to exert social control (as they are in China or urrently in Venezuela thr ugh the ZTE- backed “fath rland card”), can have cr tical implications for pr vacy and democratic gover ance Most notably in Venezuela Reuters recently reporte that China’s ZTE technol gy had enabled socialist ictator Nicolás Maduro to use the so-called “father and card” to collect pers nal data and track the be avior of citizens The socialist policies of Chinese-backed Maduro and his predecessor plunged V nezuela into a humanitari n, security, and politica abyss The United States and about 50 other countr es have come out in suppo t of interim President Ju n Guaido

In his written testimony, Christopher Walker, the v ce president for studies nd analysis at the Nation l Endowment for Democracy (NED), noted that despite the risks, the use of Chi ese technology is likely o continue growing in Lat n America He testified: For many countries in Lat n America, as in other de eloping economies around he world, the opportunity to import advanced techno ogies can be highly attra tive We can anticipate t at governments across the region will continue to p rsue such opportunities a d welcome investments fro China in this sphere Ho ever, the wider societies of countries throughout t e region must approach su h technology-related deal with open eyes and with he information necessary o make fully informed dec sions Brian Fonseca, the direct r of the Jack D

Gordon I stitute for Public Policy at Florida International niversity, noted in his p epared remarks that the p oliferation of Chinese su veillance and IT technolo ies are challenging the i terest of the United Stat s and the Western Hemisph re as a whole He acknowledged that — al ng with Beijing’s economi practices, namely its am itious Belt and Road Init ative (BRI) — Chinese-mad technologies “undermine he efficacy of democratic institutions and expand C inese influence across ec nomic, political, and sec rity landscapes,” adding: Chinese investments in te ecommunications, artifici l intelligence and other ritical technologies repr sents a concern to the Un ted States and nations in the hemisphere due to sec rity vulnerabilities in C inese technologies, the p tential that these techno ogies could serve as inte ligence collection platfo ms against the US and o r partners, and questions about the overall impacts on digital sovereignty an norms It is clear that hina’s view of the intern t is very different from he U

S Nevertheless, the presenc of Chinese technology fi ms Huawei and ZTE have su ged in Latin America, “pl cing intellectual propert , private data, and gover ment secrets at risk,” he continued Fonseca pointed out that he spread of Chinese tech ology in Latin America ca ultimately normalize pri acy violations committed y authoritarian states Citing a Newsmax article, he added: These systems can be used to acquire vast amounts o data on US

and the reg on For the same concerns about Huawei expansion, i is possible that there a e backdoors in the survei lance systems that allow hina to collect informati n as national authorities use these technologies T is could place informatio of Latin American citize s in the hands of the Chi ese government The United States has dee ed both Chinese firms Hua ei and ZTE a threat

Source: Youtube

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