Don’t buy Chinese mobile phones: Lithuanian government tells citizens
- The Lithuanian government has asked citizens to discard Chinese phones
- Lithuania discovered that Chinese phones censor some words
- Chinese mobile companies are yet to respond to the claims
Lithuania’s Defence Ministry has advised its citizens to not buy mobile phones made by Chinese companies and discard any if they have them over privacy concerns. Phones made by Chinese companies have censorship abilities installed in the phones, a Lithuanian government report has claimed.
The Lithuanian government’s cybersecurity body said on Tuesday that phones sold across Europe by Xiaomi, China’s electronic giant, have built-in capabilities to discover and censor certain phrases in Chinese characters. Such phrases include: “Free Tibet”, “Long live Taiwan independence” or “democracy movement”, Lithuania said.
The Defence Ministry’s National Cyber Security Centre further said that while the capability has been turned off in Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G phone for the “European Union region”, it can be turned on remotely at any time.
“Our recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible,” Margiris Abukevicus, Lithuania’s Defence Deputy Minister told the media while introducing the report. Xiaomi is yet to make an official comment.
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The National Cyber Centre’s report further said that the Xiaomi phone was sending encrypted phone usage data to a server in Singapore. A security flaw was also found in the P40 5G phone by China’s Huawei, but none in another Chinese cell-phone maker OnePlus, the report said.
Censorship of certain words and phrases could be done through Xiaomi’s phone system apps, including the default internet browser, according to the Lithuanian government’s report.
China and Lithuania have had a difficult relationship of late. Last month, China asked Lithuania to withdraw its ambassador from Beijing and said it would recall its envoy in Vilnius. The strain in the relationship occurred after Taiwan announced that its mission in Lithuania be called the Taiwanese Representation Office.
This ruffled China which claims Taiwan as its own territory. Taiwanese missions in the United States and Europe are known by the name of the city Taipei.